December 10, 2016

Secretary of State Pick Cements Governance by Oil Industry, Says Science Group

Statement by Ken Kimmell, President of UCS

WASHINGTON (December 10, 2016)—President-elect Trump’s decision to nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state is a grave error, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of UCS. Kimmell is also the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and previous Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative board chair.

“The nomination of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, coupled with that of Scott Pruitt for EPA, shows that President-elect Trump is creating a government of, by, and for the oil and gas industry. Never before have we seen such a concentration of extreme wealth and privilege in a single cabinet.

“This position calls for someone able to put national security and the well-being of Americans first and foremost. But Tillerson’s close ties to President Putin and Russian oligarchs call into question his ability to deal firmly with Russia, which attempted to disrupt U.S. elections according to U.S. intelligence agencies.

“The secretary of state must also be a champion for action on climate change, building on last year’s agreement by nearly 200 countries in Paris that offers our last, best hope for averting truly devastating climate impacts. U.S. leadership on climate change has greatly increased our standing in the world. In sharp contrast, Mr. Tillerson has spent 40 years at Exxon, a company whose current business model hinges on the failure of this historic international effort. He has disparaged and downplayed the science on climate change, and his company is even currently under investigation for defrauding the public and shareholders for decades about the dangers of climate change caused by fossil fuels.

“The conflicts of interest with this secretary of state pick abound. 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 Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with citizens across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.