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Rex Tillerson: A champion for Big Oil. Not a champion for us.

 

Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson’s reported nomination as the next Secretary of State completes a Cabinet which is thin on the kind of experience that defines most of America’s values and relationships with the world. Tillerson has no public sector experience. He has spent his entire career at Exxon Mobil, promoting Big Oil profits at the expense of human rights and our fragile climate. Exxon, a leading funder of climate denial, is under investigation for its failure to properly disclose the risks of climate change for years. Tillerson has a cozy relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has inked billions of dollars worth of oil deals with Russia and other despots. Tillerson’s close relationship with Russia is so worrisome that even key Republicans like Sens. John McCain and Marco Rubio have expressed concern. As the New Yorker has noted, “In nominating Tillerson, Trump is handing the State Department to a man who has worked his whole life running a parallel quasi-state, for the benefit of shareholders, fashioning relationships with foreign leaders that may or may not conform to the interests of the United States government.”

Tillerson Has Promoted What’s Best for Him and His Shareholders Over America’s National Interest
Tillerson Defied State Department Policy to Further Oil Profits. According to the New Yorker, “Tillerson and other Exxon Executives regarded the State Department as generally unhelpful, a bureaucracy of liberal career diplomats who were biased against oil…and managed Congress defensively, and as just one capital among many in the world, a place more likely to produce trouble for Exxon than benefits.” For example, “during the Obama Administration, Tillerson defied State Department policy and cut an independent oil deal with the Kurdish Regional Government, undermining the national Iraqi government in Baghdad. ExxonMobil did not ask permission. After the fact, Tillerson arranged a conference call with State Department officials and explained his actions, according to my sources, by saying, ‘I had to do what was best for my shareholders.'” [New Yorker, 12/11/16]

As CEO of Exxon Mobil, Tillerson Funded Climate Science Denial
Tillerson Muddied The Waters on Climate Change. Tillerson has called the threat of climate change “real” and “serious,” yet has funded deniers for 27 more years despite Exxon’s knowledge of climate change in 1981. Tillerson has also questioned scientific projections on global warming and asserted that technological advancements are the key to combating the threat. What’s more, his company is currently facing an investigation by the New York attorney general over accusations that it failed to properly disclose the risks of climate change for years. Tillerson told investors in May 2015 that he’s “highly confident” that humans will be able to adapt to climate change if it continues unabated, saying “those solutions will present themselves as the realities become clearer.” Those solutions could involve “different engineering accommodations along coastal areas” and “changing agricultural production,” he said. [The Guardian, 7/08/15; USA Today, 11/05/15]

Tillerson Has Misinformed About The Science of Climate Change. Media Matters noted that researchers at Harvard and MIT “provided extensive documentation showing that Tillerson’s remarks about climate change frequently ‘raise doubt about the science when there isn’t any.'” He has also downplayed the consequences of climate change and “sometimes backslides” when it comes to accepting the reality of climate change. [Media Matters, 12/16/16]

Tillerson Puts Big Oil Expansion and Profits Ahead of Human Rights
Rights Groups Say Tillerson Pick ‘Concerning.’ Amnesty International in a statement, said, “In this role, Tillerson would have to exert pressure on governments worldwide to comply with human rights standards, including Russia. The Senate should question him vigorously about his relationship to a government with such a poor human rights record. The U.S. must have a Secretary of State that will hold all countries accountable for human rights violations – even countries that have profited from his business.”

Human Rights Campaign said: “Will Trump and Tillerson take on brutal dictators like Putin who have inspired attacks against LGBTQ people? Will they assist LGBTQ Muslim refugees fleeing death from ISIS? For millions of people around the globe, their position on these and other issues are a matter of life and death. These are among the questions that Senators — Democrats and Republicans alike — must ask.” [HRC, 12/10/16; Amnesty International, 12/11/16]

Tillerson Once Criticized Putin on Rights Issues, But Now Cozies Up to Him to Boost Exxon Mobil Profits. In 2008 Tillerson said the Kremlin “must improve the functioning of its judicial system and its judiciary. There is no respect for the rule of law in Russia today.” But as Politico reports, “he soon learned that that wasn’t the way to improve the business climate for his company in Russia. … The way to succeed in Russia was to become personally close to Putin and [Putin friend and former KGP colleague Igor] Sechin.” [Politico, 12/10/16; The New York Times, 6/09/08]

Exxon Exploiting Division and Indigenous Peoples. Exxon’s project in Piltun Bay came under criticism when a coalition of non-governmental organizations, led by Sakhalin Environmental Watch, notified Sakhalin’s Prosecutor General of Exxon’s failure to conduct an ethnological review. [5/22/14]

Indonesian Villagers Accused Exxon Mobil Guards of Torture. “In 2001, a group of Indonesian villagers filed a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, claiming soldiers hired to guard the company’s natural gas operations there had committed human rights abuses. For more than a decade, ExxonMobil’s attorneys have fought to dismiss that litigation. Last year, a U.S. federal court ruled the villagers’ case could proceed.” [Houston Chronicle, 12/06/16]

Tillerson Lobbied Against U.S. Sanctions On Russia After Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine. NBC News reported that “One of ExxonMobil’s and Russia’s biggest deals fell victim to the sanctions imposed by the Obama administration in reaction to Russia invading Crimea in 2014. That deal to drill in the offshore Arctic Kara Sea oil field would have reportedly been worth $500 billion.” Tillerson said he personally lobbied the White House against the Russia sanctions because of Ukraine. [NBC, 12/10/16; New York Times, 6/09/14]

Tillerson Has Close Ties to Vladimir Putin And Other Despots and Dictators
Trump Cited Tillerson’s Russia Links As A Key Qualifier For His Secretary of State Nomination. “To me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia. He does massive deals for the company,” Trump said. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Among those considered for the post, Mr. Tillerson has perhaps the closest ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, having negotiated a 2011 energy partnership deal with Russia that Mr. Putin said could eventually be worth as much as $500 billion. In 2012, the Kremlin bestowed the country’s Order of Friendship decoration on Mr. Tillerson.” [TalkingPointsMemo, 12/10/16, WSJ, 12/10/16]

Under Tillerson’s Leadership, Exxon Mobil Got Rich Doing Deals With Dictators. Although Exxon Mobil has a stated policy of promoting human rights, and has incorporated the advice of human-rights activists in its corporate-security policies, it nonetheless works as a partner to dictators. According to the New Yorker, “ExxonMobil has had more luck making money in Equatorial Guinea, a small, oil-rich West African dictatorship that has been ruled for decades by a single family, than in Alaska.” [New Yorker, 12/11/16]

Tillerson Has No Public Sector Experience
Tillerson Would Be the First Secretary of State ‘In Modern History’ To Have No Public-Sector Experience. NBC reported that “The 64-year-old veteran oil executive has no government or diplomatic experience, although he has ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.” [NBC, 12/10/16; Washington Post 12/10/16]

Some Senate Republicans Are Skeptical Of Tillerson Because of His Ties To Russia

Sen John McCain: Tillerson’s Relationship With Putin ‘Is A Matter of Concern.’ThinkProgress reported: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said in an interview with Fox News on Saturday that “I don’t know what Mr. Tillerson’s relationship with Vladimir Putin was, but I’ll tell you it is a matter of concern to me.” … “I’d have to examine it,” McCain continued. “You want to give the president of the United States the benefit of the doubt because the people have spoken. But Vladimir Putin is a thug, bully and a murderer, and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.” [ThinkProgress, 12/10/16]

Sen. Marco Rubio Tweeted Concerns About Tillerson. “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #SecretaryOfState – MR” [Twitter, 12/11/16]

Tillerson Supports The Trans-Pacific Partnership
Tillerson Called The TPP A ‘Promising Development.’ Despite Donald Trump’s staunch opposition to the TPP and free trade during the campaign, he has chosen someone in Tillerson to lead our foreign policy who supports TPP and is an enthusiastic free trader. “One of the most promising developments on this front is the ongoing effort for the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” he said in 2013. “The 11 nations that have been working to lower trade barriers and end protectionist policies under this partnership are a diverse mix of developed and developing economies. But all of them understand the value of open markets to growth and progress for every nation.” In 2007, he said, “Trade barriers, punitive taxes, artificial subsidies, and other market manipulations may appear to some to be in the interest of U.S. energy security. … But to the extent they inhibit development and diversification of global economic energy supply, they clearly are not.” [The Daily Beast, 12/12/16, The Washington Post, 12/13/16]

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