The CEO of Exxon Is Our New Secretary of State

by Naomi Ages

February 1, 2017

Minutes ago, the Senate confirmed Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson as our next Secretary of State in the most divided vote in history. Our stance has been — and will remain — relentless resistance. Are you with us?

Action at Rex Tillerson Senate Confirmation Hearing in Washington D.C.

© Ken Cedeno / Greenpeace

Since the day Donald Trump nominated Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, the American people saw the danger of having the CEO of Exxon as the representative of our country’s interests around the globe — and they raised hell about it.

Why? While Tillerson was the CEO of Exxon, the company put profits ahead of U.S. interests by spreading misinformation about climate change, obstructing climate action and partnering with Russia to drill in the Arctic.

During his confirmation hearing — despite having access to Exxon’s own research that climate change is driven by human activity — Tillerson continued his climate denial charade as he avoided answering questions about climate change and suggested that human activity was not the cause of it.

Despite that, the Senate failed the American people by confirming Tillerson as Secretary of State by a vote of 56 to 43.

It’s the most “no” votes for a Secretary of State nominee in history.

Following Tillerson’s nomination, people like you made it very clear that the American people do not want a man who has spent his entire career in the fossil fuel industry anywhere near the White House.

During Tillerson’s confirmation hearing, activists stood up and made sure the Senate knew of the danger that Rex Tillerson would pose as Secretary of State. More than 15,000 Greenpeace supporters called their senators and 40,000 signed petitions telling the Senate to #RejectRex. And just over a week ago, ten U.S. military veterans visited Senator John McCain’s office and demanded the senator reject Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. After asking to meet with Senator McCain for hours, they were arrested in a courageous act of civil disobedience. 

Last Monday, despite his own serious concerns that Tillerson could “pursue a foreign policy of deal-making at the expense of human rights and democracy,” Senate Foreign Relations Committe member Marco Rubio caved and voted to confirm Tillerson, allowing the nomination to move to the full Senate.

In response, I got a few friends together and we brought Senator Rubio the spine he was obviously missing (shown below).

The Senate was not listening to the voices of people like you when it made this decision. It was not listening to the wide range of irrefutable evidence that Tillerson is unfit to serve as Secretary of State. It was listening to an industry that would let our planet burn just to protect its own profits.

Confirming Rex Tillerson over the opposition of millions of Americans is a call to action.

To avoid the worst impact of climate change, we cannot accept this takeover of our government by the oil and gas industry — we must resist. The good news is that the resistance to Trump and his administration’s attack on climate action has already started, and we’re ready to get to work. Join us!

Dario Parra also contributed to this post.

Naomi Ages

By Naomi Ages

Naomi Ages is the Climate Liability Project Lead at Greenpeace USA. Her work focuses on establishing legal, political, and financial accountability for climate change, aiming to empower those who are most vulnerable to its impacts.

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