Rainforest Action Network Executive Director Lindsey Allen statement in response to Senate’s confirmation of former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as U.S. Secretary of State:
The confirmation of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State threatens to eliminate all barriers between corporate power and the U.S. government. We now have the CEO of one of the world’s biggest corporations driving U.S. foreign policy. Corruption and cronyism have become the immediate and troubling hallmarks of this new administration.
On global human rights, Rex Tillerson has horrendous record. He has negotiated deals worth billions of dollars with Russia, a country with an abysmal human rights record. The Human Rights Campaign recently labeled current president Vladimir Putin as a “brutal dictator.”
Investigations by Global Witness revealed “Exxon Mobil or its corporate predecessor Mobil have engaged in questionable transactions with governments of oil-rich countries, including Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Angola and Chad. Such deals have contributed to entrenching poverty, fuelling instability and violating human rights in some of the world’s most volatile regions.”
Exxon Mobil also actively worked with the government of Equatorial Guinea, which “arbitrarily detains and tortures critics, disregards elections, and has faced international prosecution for using oil profits to enrich the president’s family.”
On climate change, Exxon Mobile has engaged in decades-long, profit-driven and reckless fraud. In the 1970s, Exxon’s own scientists warned company executives and published research on the climate consequences of burning fossil fuels. They knew its cause. They knew its disastrous effects. Yet they routinely denied the facts about climate change and paid tens of millions of dollars to climate change denialists, like American Legislative Exchange Council. Exxon has intentionally clouded the public’s opinion about the threat to people and planet posed by climate change. Exxon is to climate change what the tobacco industry is to lung cancer.
Confirming Rex Tillerson is a gross blurring of the lines between corporate greed and government policy. This was one of the most hotly contested votes for this cabinet position in U.S. history and flies in the face of millions of American voters. Rainforest Action Network will continue to challenge corporate power in all its forms to ensure that profits are not placed before the interests of people and planet.