Greenpeace Activists Speak Out During Appointment Hearing of Rex Tillerson

by Jason Schwartz

January 11, 2017


January 11, 2017
Contact: Jason Schwartz, [email protected], 347-452-3752
Cassady Craighill, [email protected], 828-817-3328

Greenpeace Activists Speak Out During Appointment Hearing of Rex Tillerson: “U.S. State Department not for Sale.”
Part of the broad-based resistance to Trump’s science-denying, fossil-fuel friendly administration
Photos available here and here

Washington, DC – Today four activists with Greenpeace peacefully interrupted the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s appointment hearing for President-elect Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. Holding banners reading “RejectRexx,” the activists stood and delivered messages of opposition to the naming of an oil CEO as the nation’s chief diplomat. Hailing from New York, North Carolina, Texas, and California, the the three women and one man represented a diversity of reasons for rejecting Tillerson’s appointment.

  • A woman from the Rockaways in New York spoke of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction of her community, tying Exxon’s climate obstruction to the increased cost of climate change;
  • A woman from North Carolina appealed to the Senators’ care for their children and grandchildren and called on them to reject Tillerson on the grounds of his dealings with the Putin regime to drill in the Russian Arctic;
  • A woman from Texas called attention to Exxon’s history of exploiting vulnerable communities worldwide, and directly addressed Tillerson from one Texan to another;
  • And a man from California denounced the shame of handing over U.S. foreign policy to the oil and gas industry.


The activists were escorted out of the hearing room by Capitol police. Today is the first day of Tillerson’s hearings, which are scheduled to continue on Thursday. It was also the second day of the hearings for Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s nominee for Attorney General. Those hearings were also met with disruptions. Greenpeace joins allies across movements for peace, justice, and the environment in resisting all of Trump’s cabinet as a handover of the American government to corporations and climate deniers. In addition to Tillerson, the organization has noted the conflicts of interests of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Rep. Ryan Zinke, and Texas Governor Rick Perry, Trump’s nominees to head the EPA, Interior, and the Department of Energy. All of the men tapped to head departments overseeing environmental and climate policy have deep ties to the oil and gas industry, science-denial, and climate obstruction. The action was accompanied by an outdoor rally and a silent protest outside the hearing room, which were organized in collaboration with

Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA (who was not present at the hearing) said: “Understanding geopolitics through the frame of the oil and gas industry isn’t a qualification for diplomacy, it’s a conflict of interest. Rex Tillerson has been lying to Americans for decades, just to maximize the profits of an industry hell bent on taking the world down with it. The American people know he will not change now, and we expect our Senators to represent us by rejecting Rex Tillerson. The affected community members who stood up today to object to his nomination are standing up on behalf of people both in America and around the world who have already been impacted by climate change.

Activist Quotes:

Joan Flynn (68) of Rockaway New York: “Hurricane Sandy destroyed my house and devastated my community. Rex Tillerson’s lies, and the lies of his oil industry friends, make more Hurricane Sandys inevitable. Exxon knew about climate change for forty years and hid it to protect its profits. It is an offense to the victims of climate change past and future to put a man like that in charge of our State Department. If the Senators care about their constituents more than the oil and gas industry, they will do right by us.”

Beth Henry (62) of Charlotte, North Carolina: “Putin and Tillerson are not friends by coincidence. They both want to exploit the massive oil reserves of the Russian Arctic, which would be catastrophic for the climate. Anybody who loves and cherishes their children and grandchildren as I do must feel their instincts to protect and defend their own provoked by the very mention of Rex Tillerson.”

Jason Schwartz

By Jason Schwartz

Jason Schwartz is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based in New York City.

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