The nomination of Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil since 2006 and employee since 1975, is a serious threat to the national security interests of the United States and the immediate and long-term health of our planet.
Exxon has a culture of allegiance to money over America. At an oil and gas industry meeting in Washington, Tillerson’s predecessor Lee Raymond told the room of executives: “I don’t make decisions based on what’s good for the U.S.” After a lifetime of making decisions that are only good for the bank accounts of Exxon’s execs who work inside “The Death Star” and the political heads of Russia and the Middle East, it is doubtful that Tillerson will start looking out for the American people now.
As Union of Concerned Scientists president Ken Kimmell says: “You wouldn’t hire the CEO of a tobacco company to serve as surgeon general. So why would you pick the leader of an oil and gas corporation to spearhead a position tasked with national security and global climate action?”
The one silver lining in Tillerson’s ominous nomination is that if he accepts, he will have to testify under oath before Congress and finally answer for his company’s decades of climate deception and dealings with the Kremlin.
1. President Putin + “Secretary Tillerson” = Make Exxon Great Again:
- Current U.S. sanctions against Russia for its actions in eastern Ukraine killed a business deal that Tillerson personally secured with Russia worth an estimated $500 billion. As Secretary of State, Tillerson could reverse or make policy decisions about U.S. sanctions to make Big Oil & Gas rich even if it makes the U.S. less safe.
- Recent analysis indicates Exxon is hemorrhaging revenue. In October 2016, the company even hinted that it would need to write down its assets by 4.6 billion barrels of oil that will need to be stranded to meet climate goals. The company needs a cash solution to keep its shareholders satisfied. Tillerson becoming Secretary of State is that solution.
Exxon would greatly benefit by Tillerson reopening deals with nations like Russia and repealing policies meant to protect humanity from the consequences of climate change. Russia and its state-owned oil company Rosneft would also reap the financial and military benefits of getting Exxon’s fracking and drilling technology and U.S. reserves.
Exxon and Russia win big with Tillerson running State. But the big question now is, how would Tillerson’s deals benefit and secure the United States?
2. The Paris climate agreement is in jeopardy if Tillerson is in charge:
- Although Exxon and its CEO claim to accept the global climate accord, the company’s own financial forecast does not comply with the global 2-degree goal and timeline.
- It’s unlikely that as Secretary of State, Tillerson would suddenly begin to respect the Paris Agreement and force Exxon to keep its oil reserves in the ground.
3. As CEO, Tillerson extended Exxon’s shameful legacy of climate denial, despite what his company’s advertising and PR campaigns want you believe:
- Between 1998 and 2014, Exxon shelled out more than $30 million to climate denial groups. In 2015 alone, ExxonMobil gave more than $2 million to organizations that engage in climate denial, including AEI and ALEC, among others.
4. Similar to Trump, Tillerson’s business entanglements would pose an awkward and corrupt power dynamic if he becomes U.S. Secretary of State:
- Exxon is currently under investigation by the attorneys general of multiple states.
- The SEC also has a formal investigation into Exxon’s possibly fraudulent accounting over climate change.
- Exxon is an intervenor in a new federal court case brought by 21 children against the U.S. Government for failing to safeguard them from climate change. Exxon is fighting back against children because they fear the financial costs to fossil fuels if the kids win.
- Foreign countries may also favor Exxon in business choices if Tillerson becomes the U.S.’s top diplomat the same way we’re already seeing foreign countries show favor to the Trump Hotel in Washington, DC.
5. Tillerson and Exxon are actively using federal courts and paid pawns in Congress to attack public interest nonprofits that are seeking and exposing the truth about the company:
- Both Tillerson and Trump have a bad habit of using the justice system to attack their adversaries.
- Tillerson routinely puts Exxon’s profit above the principles of the First Amendment.
- In November 2016, Exxon sent subpoenas to several nonprofits including the Union of Concerned Scientists and 350.org demanding access to private communications and records about the #ExxonKnew public interest campaign.
- Since 2008, Exxon has directly contributed nearly $20,000 to House Science Chairman Lamar Smith’s re-election. The oil and gas industry has collectively contributed more than $675,000 to Lamar Smith since 1998. It is no coincidence that Smith chose to use his authority in 2016 to harass pro-science organizations that question Exxon’s knowing role in climate change.
- Since 2015, Exxon has contributed more than $100,000 to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which is now actively defending Exxon and the oil industry from nonprofits that question and expose Exxon’s history of climate fraud.
- Tillerson personally contributed over half a million dollars to Republicans since 2003 who will have a vote in his confirmation. These contributions went to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and sitting members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee including Sens. Gardner and Barrasso.
6. Tillerson and Exxon ignore and abet global human rights abuses:
- Through the 1980s and 90s, Exxon sponsored and equipped the Indonesian military to guard its large natural gas field in Aceh, Indonesia even though it knew of the military’s violent methods. Indonesian villagers who protested Exxon’s operations were then murdered, tortured, kidnapped and raped by the Exxon guards. A court case against Exxon for its role in the abuse is still active in U.S. courts.
- Vladimir Putin personally awarded Rex Tillerson Russia’s Order of Friendship. By accepting that friendship, Tillerson is also accepting Russia’s long list of human rights abuses against its LGBT and disabled citizens, journalists, and advocates.
Over and over, Rex Tillerson has shown he is willing to be ruthless and reckless to make money for Exxon and his friends. He is not fit to serve and protect America’s values and national security interests because his own company is a threat to those very values and security.