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Preview: DeSmogBlog - Rex Tillerson

Rex Tillerson





 



The New ExxonMobil: Has the Tiger Changed Its Stripes?

Wed, 13 Jun 2012 17:19:50 +0000

For a decade, now, I’ve been a reporter on climate science. And one of my earliest stories was a Mother Jones cover, exposing ExxonMobil’s funding of think tanks that support climate denialism. The piece was actually nominated for a National Magazine Award. It got around. With this article and others, I contributed a great deal to a narrative that others, notably Greenpeace and this blog, were also forging: Climate science was under attack by corporate interests; leading the charge was ExxonMobil. As it turns out, if anything that story now appears more accurate than we knew at the time. But there’s a crucial caveat to it—it may not be so accurate any longer, due to changes at the top of the company. How do we know this? Simple: We read New Yorker writer and Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter Steve Coll’s new book Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power. I just reviewed this lengthy work in the journal Democracy. You can read the full review here, but I want to summarize the key salient points regarding climate change (the book covers much more than that) below. Throughout the First Half of the 2000s, ExxonMobil Was Perhaps Even Worse than We Knew. Coll paints an ExxonMobil run by a domineering climate denier, CEO Lee Raymond, who was in tight with Dick Cheney and quite sure he was right about the issue. Moreover, Coll reports, Raymond felt extremely burned by environmentalists over the ExxonValdez, and that carried over into his approach to the climate issue. As I write in my review: In 1997, as the Kyoto Protocol loomed, Raymond spent “thirty-three paragraphs of [a] seventy-eight-paragraph speech” in Beijing denying global warming. Trained as a chemist, Raymond was that paradoxical but statistically common phenomenon: a highly intelligent conservative whose intellectual gifts seemed to make him even more dogged and inflexible than conservatives who are less knowledgeable or educated. At a 2000 shareholder meeting, Raymond even cited an oft-debunked “petition,” allegedly signed by 17,000 scientists skeptical of global warming, to back up his case. Just one tiny problem: The petition’s signatures “included those of pop musicians such as the Spice Girls and James Brown,” notes Coll wryly. And Raymond enforced his denialist view throughout the corporation. “They had come to the conclusion that the whole debate around global warming was kind of a hoax,” says one of Coll’s inside sources. “Nobody inside Exxon dared question that.” Coll goes on to depict ExxonMobil’s funding of a climate denial echo chamber as one of its most problematic actions. Of the oil majors, no company was so steadfast on this as ExxonMobil, and from Coll, we learn that much of this must be traced to Raymond. But Rex Tillerson Isn’t Lee Raymond. But here’s the thing. Coll suggests that within ExxonMobil, not everybody liked being known as such an environmental bad guy. Eventually, and for many reasons, the company's board wanted a change of leadership. And Raymond’s successor Rex Tillerson, in Coll’s account, comes off as a very different dude. As I write: Enter Rex Tillerson, a man who, in comparison to Raymond, comes across as a milquetoast. About the most interesting thing that Coll has to tell us about him (and it doesn’t at all seem like Coll’s fault) is that he was an Eagle Scout, and fond of drawing not-so-deep lessons from the scouting view of the world. Tillerson had distinguished himself making overseas deals for the company. Like Raymond, he was born a Christian in the heartland; his youthful reading of Atlas Shrugged further suggests an ideology similar to Raymond’s. Yet Tillerson lacked Raymond’s fire and domineering nature—and his flair. But that’s exactly what ExxonMobil needed; it was time for a change. “We never set out for the company to be public enemy number one,” Tillerson tells Coll. Tillerson, Coll reports, came in in 2006 and ordered a review of the company’s entire position on climate change, including its funding of controversial think[...]



Big Oil to Obama: "Over Our Dead Bodies!"

Wed, 08 Apr 2009 14:41:13 +0000

The Obama administration wants to reduce oil consumption, increase renewable energy supplies and cut carbon dioxide emissions in the most ambitious transformation of energy policy in a generation. But even as Washington goes into a frenzy over energy, many of the oil companies are staying on the sidelines, balking at investing in new technologies favored by the president, or even straying from commitments they had already made.




Biden – Palin: Finally, A Real Debate about Climate Change and Energy

Mon, 06 Oct 2008 09:26:37 +0000

Would she or wouldn’t she? To tell from the lavish – some would say obsessive – coverage that preceded the vice-presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri, last week, the question that was on every self-respecting pundit’s mind was: “How, or, to be more precise, how poorly, will Palin fare?” Following a series of highly publicized interviews in which she had “distinguished” herself for her absolute lack of grasp of foreign and domestic policy issues – citing Alaska’s proximity to Russia and her whirlwind tour of Iraq as examples of her “substantial” experience. (To give you an idea of how truly inane her responses were, Tina Fey, a performer on the popular comedy/satire show Saturday Night Live, only had to recite Palin’s lines to elicit huge guffaws from the audience.)This accompanied weeks of embarrassing coverage during which her qualifications for the vice presidency were called into question – even by several high profile conservative writers – and many of her standard stump speech lines (see: the Bridge to Nowhere) were exposed as blatant lies by a newly reinvigorated press. Her frequent gaffes provided ready fodder for late-night comics and an Obama campaign eager to portray McCain’s running mate as a likeable, but thoroughly unqualified, pick. Joe Biden, whose own verbal mishaps have earned him the reputation of being the classic foot-in-the-mouth politician, seemed almost unnoticeable, by comparison. It was to everyone’s surprise then that Palin managed a respectable, though error-filled, performance this past Thursday. Mustering her best folksy persona, Palin sought to “aw shuck” and “doggone” her way into the viewers’ hearts – all while consciously skirting Gwen Ifill’s questions about her and John McCain’s past records. While Joe Biden’s performance was by no means thrilling, it was informed, measured and heart-felt (especially when he talked about the deaths of his first wife and daughter). And, unlike Palin, who seemed to be giving just another version of her stump speech, Biden’s answers hewed closer to Ifill’s questions. Though I may be mistaken, I believe this debate marked the first (or, at most, second) instance in which the moderator asked the candidates about their views on climate change. Tellingly, Palin responded by first calling into question the “manmade” nature of climate change – arguing that while there is “something to be said also for man’s activities,” the “cyclical temperature changes on our planet” also play a crucial role – and by then questioning the basis for Ifill’s question, saying that she didn’t want “to argue about the causes”. She boasted that she was the first governor to form a climate sub-cabinet – in fact, twenty-eight states had already taken action beforehand and she has done very little, if anything, with her cabinet – and that, as the head of the only Arctic state, she knows climate change is “real” (apparently a major plus in her opinion). She then went on to rattle off some of the specifics of McCain’s “all of the above” energy plan (which really isn’t), praising its emphasis on “safe” nuclear power, offshore drilling and, her catchphrase of the night, “energy independence”. Biden started his answer by unambiguously declaring climate change to be “clearly manmade” – in sharp contrast to Palin (though, to be fair, McCain has also accepted its anthropogenic nature). He lambasted McCain’s dismal record on alternative energy funding – the senator from Arizona has voted 20 times over the last decade and a half against funding renewable energy – and criticized his energy policy’s almost single-minded focus on “Drill, baby, drill” (what Palin called “environmentally-friendly” drilling). He also came out in support of “clean coal” (i.e. carbon capture and storage) technology, a position that has earned the Democratic ticket a lot of flack from environmentalists, and of stringent carbon [...]



ExxonMobil Still the Bull in the Climate Shop

Thu, 29 May 2008 18:42:54 +0000

He was going to be smooth. Polished. Charming. The new face of ExxonMobil, presented to us back in March 2006: If Rex W. Tillerson has his way, Exxon Mobil will no longer be the oil company that environmentalists love to hate. Since taking over as Exxon's chairman three months ago from Lee R. Raymond, his abrasive predecessor who dismissed fears of global warming and branded environmental activists “extremists,” Mr. Tillerson has gone out of his way to soften Exxon's public stance on climate change. “We recognize that climate change is a serious issue,” Mr. Tillerson said during a 50-minute interview last week, pointing to a recent company report that acknowledged the link between the consumption of fossil fuels and rising global temperatures. “We recognize that greenhouse gas emissions are one of the factors affecting climate change.”That image completely fell apart at a news conference yesterday.Tillerson let us know exactly what he thinks about climate change science: “And I will take all the criticism that comes with it. Anybody that tells you that they got this [climate change science] figured out is not being truthful. There are too many complexities around climate science for anybody to fully understand all of the causes and effects and consequences of what you may chose to do to attempt to affect that. We have to let scientists to continue their investigative work, unencumbered by political influences. This is too important to be cute with it.Let's put that through the Denierality Translator:”Patrick Michaels told me what to say. Let me check my cheat sheet here… oh yes: he and his 'scientist' friends would like more Exxon money to continue their foot-dragging - er, 'research'. They've got to have time to cook more graphs and make the data fit the Exxon corporate interests. Oh, yes, regarding 'political influences': I really shouldn't point fingers. Anyway, thank you for your time, ladies and gentlemen.” Exxon hasn't changed, folks. They're still bullies, stalking the streets, like a cheesy 80s song .And they're just as behind the times. What should be worrying them is that the media is discussing their attitude as archaic, and pointing out that they're debating a firm, scientific consensus on climate change. In the dark Exxon heart, they know it isn't just those darned environmentalists dogging them. It's science, and they can't escape it. Tags: exxonrex tillersonglobal warmingclimate changeclimate change deniersExxonMobile[...]



ExMoMoMoMoMoMoMo

Fri, 01 Feb 2008 14:33:24 +0000

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HOUSTON - Exxon Mobil Corp. posted the largest annual profit by a U.S. company – $40.6 billion in 2007 – as the world's largest publicly traded oil company benefited from historic crude prices at year's end.

Exxon also set a U.S. record for the biggest quarterly profit, posting net income of $11.7 billion for the final three months of 2007, besting its own mark of $10.71 billion in the fourth quarter of 2005.




ExMo Chief: energy independence is "isolationist"

Tue, 13 Nov 2007 20:24:49 +0000

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On the same day Hilary Clinton released her plan to reduce the US addiction to foreign oil imports and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the CEO of the largest oil company in the world is balking at the pursuit for energy independence.

Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has hit out at “isolationism” in energy policy (full article is firewalled) arguing that attempts to pursue energy independence are futile and counter-productive.

According to the US Department of Energy Information, ExxonMobil is the second largest exporter of crude oil to the United States originating from the Persian Gulf.

Tillerson stated that:

Regardless, no conceivable combination of demand moderation or domestic supply development can realistically close the gap and eliminate Americans' need for imports.”Tilerson's remarks, made at the World Energy Congress in Rome, provided support for calls from Opec, the oil producers' cartel, for what the group calls “security of demand”.

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Exxon's "Rumsfeldian" position on climate change

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 20:08:51 +0000

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Looks like ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson dusted off Donald Rumsfeld's PR play-book in explaining Exxon's stance on global warming, here's the quote:

There's much we know and can agree on around the climate change issue, and there’s much that we just don’t believe we do know…and we want to have a debate about the things we know and understand, the things we know about that we don’t understand very well, and the things we don’t even know about around this very complex issue of climate science. So that will continue to be our position.”

Thanks for clearing that up Mr. Tillerson.

Here's the youtube version with Rumsfeld's famous “known knowns” explanation of the Iraq war produced by the very clever folks at Sirotablog.

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Rex, We Know About 3,000 Scientists You Might Ask

Thu, 31 May 2007 13:45:57 +0000

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ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson continued his company's history of questioning the causes of climate change. Talking to shareholders, Tillerson said: “We don't have a difference of views that it's an important issue. We have differences about what we know and what we don't know.”



Science Committee Chair Demands Exxon reveal 2007 think tank grants

Fri, 18 May 2007 23:39:11 +0000

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Rep. Brad Miller (D-North Carolina), chair of the House Subcommittee on Science and Technology, fired off a strong letter (pdf) to ExxonMobil demanding that the oil giant hand over documents relating to all grants awarded so far in 2007 by recipient.

Miller penned the letter after Greenpeace revealed today that ExxonMobil continues to fund global warming science attack dogs in the form of think tanks and industry-friendly associations. In the letter to Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, Miller states:

ExxonMobil continues to lead the world's corporations in profits and in market capitalization. Unfortunately, ExxonMobil's economic success has been tarnished by a history of sowing doubt about the science of climate change, science you privately know to be true.”Could this be the first step in a Congressional hearing similar to Rep. Henry Waxman's famous Big Tobacco Hearings?

Sure looks that way.





eXXon caught with fingers crossed, new report

Fri, 18 May 2007 04:03:25 +0000

Despite ExxonMobil's denials, a report released today by Greenpeace's ExxonSecrets.org project, reveals that the largest oil company in the world continues to spend millions on a stealth public relations campaign aimed at discrediting global warming science. According to the report, Exxon provided $2.1 million in 2006 to 41 “think” tanks and associations that actively sow doubt about the realities of climate change. Since 1998, ExxonMobil has spent a staggering $23 million on this climate disinformation. ExxonSecret's report titled: ExxonMobil's Continued Funding of Global Warming Denial Industry (attached), will easily withstand criticism by those who want to dismiss this as a conspiracy theory. Check out the 1998 communications plan (in the attached report, Denial and Deception) outlining the beginnings of the entire undertaking by Exxon-funded organizations. While the ExxonMobil climate change confusion campaign continues, the company has recently come under heavy-fire from members of the scientific community and US legislators. In September, 2006, the prestigious London Royal Society sent a letter (pdf) to ExxonMobil urging them to discontinue such activities. The letter states: At our meeting in July, I also told you of my concerns about the support ExxonMobil has been giving to organisations that have been misinforming the public about the science of climate change. You indicated that ExxonMobil would not be providing any further funding to these organisations.”In January of this year the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a report titled, Smoke, Mirrors and Hot Air: How ExxonMobil uses Big Tobacco tactics to manufacture uncertainty on climate science.(pdf version here) In October, 2006 U.S. Senators Rockefeller and Snowe sent a letter to Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson stating: We are convinced that ExxonMobil's longstanding support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics' access to and influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.” Since then, Exxon has tried to soften its hard-line stance on global warming. The Wall Street Journal reported in January, 2007 that: … Exxon decided in late 2005 not to fund for 2006 Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and 'five or six' other groups active in the global warming debate.”The ExxonSecret report shows those groups are presumably the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Environmental Literacy Council, Free Enterprise Education Institute the Center for a New Europe USA and the Center for Defense of Free Enterprise. At the DAVOS Conference this year Forbes Magazine said of CEO Rex Tillerson that: On carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and their impact on global warming he [Rex Tillerson] said: 'It is clear that something is going on. It is not useful to debate the issue any longer.”The report out today proves what DSBlog and many others have long suspected: Exxon is happy to spin this issue, but not act in good faith. The company says that it believes humans are causing climate change, but still doesn't want you to believe it.Exxon says that it believes humans are causing climate change, but the company still doesn't want you to believe it. ExxonMobil is the richest company in the history of companies, yet it can't seem to find the money to diversify its operations away from full fossil-fuel dependency. It's no wonder they don't want people to embrace sensible (and affordable) climate change policy.While still a difficult issue, scientists are telling us that it can be beat with existing technology and minimal investment. The first step is a well-informed - and honest - public debate about what we need to do to significantly reduce g[...]



Reports of ExMo's Reform Prove Premature

Wed, 14 Feb 2007 17:28:39 +0000

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Anyone celebrating ExxonMobil's recent announcement that it acknowledges the truth of climate change can stick the cork back in the bottle. While Exxon's vice president for public affairs, Kenneth Cohen cast climate cange as undeniable, ExMo CEO Rex Tillerson made it clear yesterday that the company is still happily clinging to doubt.

“My understanding is there’s not a clear 100 percent conclusion drawn,” Tillerson told an industry gathering in Houston. “Nobody can conclusively 100 percent know how this is going to play out. I think that’s important.”

Tillerson also said he sees no role for Exxon in helping to develop alternatives like ethanol, quipping, “I don’t have a lot of technology to add to moonshine.”

It looks like the deniers might be able to count on a few more years of ExMo funding , after all.




A Skunk By Any Other Name . . .

Mon, 08 Jan 2007 22:13:47 +0000

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ExxonMobil Chairman Rex Tillerson told a group of fund managers the company would not be changing its basic position on global warming - just explaining it better.