February 1, 2017

Tillerson Receives Highest “No” Vote for Secretary of State, Science Group Expects Him To Uphold Paris Agreement, Recuse Himself from Exxon-Related Matters for Full Term

Statement by Kathy Mulvey, Climate Accountability Campaign Manager

WASHINGTON (February 1, 2017)—Today, Congress approved President Trump’s nominee, for secretary of state, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, by a 56-43 vote. The vote against Tillerson’s confirmation was the highest for a secretary of state since World War II. Condoleeza Rice, by contrast, was approved by an 85-13 vote, Henry Kissinger by 78-7 and Dean Acheson by 83-6. 

During his confirmation hearing, Tillerson offered to recuse himself from diplomatic decisions that could have an impact on ExxonMobil for only one year, not his entire term. He repeatedly failed to acknowledge that burning fossil fuels is driving major changes to Earth’s climate, downplaying the need to address global warming.  

Below is a statement by Kathy Mulvey, climate accountability campaign manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists.   

“Today’s vote shows that a significant number of legislators have grave concerns about Rex Tillerson’s ability to put the interests of the American people first. Tillerson failed to explain how he would resolve potential conflicts of interest over the next four years and—for all his talk about ‘accountability’—he evaded questions about ExxonMobil’s positions and actions under his leadership.

“If Tillerson is serious about living up to his professed values of leadership and accountability, he should:

  • Recuse himself from diplomatic decisions that overlap with ExxonMobil’s interests for his entire term, rather than just the one year he promised.
  • Ensure the United States meets its commitments under international climate agreements, not—as he described—passively fill a ‘seat at the table.’ And,
  • Defend national security interests by taking concrete steps to limit U.S. carbon emissions to ensure increases in global average temperatures remain below 2 degrees Celsius.

“The scientific community and the 194 other countries that signed the Paris climate agreement will not sit idly by. We will be watching Mr. Tillerson’s actions closely.”

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