President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state will likely face the ire of Democrats who believe the oil man helped hide decades-worth of climate research.
Trump picked Rex Tillerson as his choice to head the Department of State Tuesday, even though the Exxon CEO faced charges that his company hid decades-worth of climate research.
The attorneys general-led crusade could potentially derail Tillerson’s bid for state secretary.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was among the first attorneys general to begin investigating the company in 2015, “demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents” from the oil producer dating all the way back to the 1970s.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined the investigation shortly thereafter, and is currently attempting to avoid giving a deposition related to her Exxon probes to a Texas court.
Schneiderman based much of his probes on public statements Tillerson made during a congressional testimony in 2010 suggesting that while humans are contributing to an increase greenhouse gasses, it was not yet clear “to what extent and therefore what can you do about it.”
“There is not a model available today that is competent,” Tillerson said, for determining how best to understand the science and to predict the future.
Schneiderman disagreed with Tillerson’s claims, citing oil industry internal research, as well as precautionary actions taken in the Arctic and elsewhere to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The campaign against Exxon is partially the result of an investigation conducted by InsideClimate News, a news outlet bankrolled by billionaire group Rockefeller Family Foundation.
InsideClimate News also argues Amoco, Phillips, Texaco, Shell, and others joined Exon in misleading the public about the supposed effects global warming has on sea levels.
The Exxon probes haven’t affected Trump’s view on Tillerson.
The former real estate tycoon — now president-elect — called Exxon’s chief a successful international deal-maker who has done wonders.
“He will be a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests and help reverse years of misguided foreign policies and actions that have weakened America’s security and standing in the world,” Trump said in a statement Tuesday.
Democratic politicians, meanwhile, have tried to elevate the so-called Exxon-Knew movement to a higher audience. Their efforts have not really taken off, but Tillerson’s nomination could help rejuvenate the crusade.
Former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, for instance, wrote a letter in May suggesting efforts to stymie the Exxon investigation “reprises the tobacco lawsuit’s own early history of efforts from Congress to discourage or interfere with that lawsuit in order to protect the tobacco industry.”
Schneiderman’s spokesman, Eric Soufer, made similar comments in August as those made by Warren and Sanders.
“This is just the latest example of the industry turning to the Big Tobacco playbook: deny, delay, and distract from the real issues under investigation to avoid an honest conversation about the facts,” Soufer told reporters.
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