Live Updates: CIEL Reactions to Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson’s Nomination Hearing for Secretary of State


Washington, DC — Today, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson is testifying before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee to answer questions about his nomination for Secretary of State. Tillerson’s nomination has been widely criticized for his severe and pervasive conflicts of interests, lack of governmental experience, close ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, and his company’s troubling record of climate denial, environmental destruction, and alleged human rights abuses. Below are ongoing, updated reactions from CIEL to his testimony.

12:50pm EST

“Not to my knowledge. I cannot say.”

CIEL: “The universe of subjects Rex Tillerson knows, admits to knowing, or is permitted to speak to is vanishingly small for someone who would be the US voice to the world. Listening to his hearing, it would be easier to conclude Tillerson is under criminal investigation than under consideration for Secretary of State.”

5:00pm EST

“I’m asking you about Exxon’s knowledge of climate science and Exxon’s decisions to fund and promote a view contrary to the science… whether those allegations are true or false,” asked Senator Tim Kaine.

“The question would have to be put to ExxonMobil,” responded Tillerson.

“Let me ask you. Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question, or do you refuse to answer my question?”

 “A little bit of both.”

“I have a hard time believing that you lack the knowledge to answer my question,” said Kaine.

CIEL: “In the course of our Smoke & Fumes research, it became clear that the oil industry was given warning by its own scientists about the threat of climate change as early as 1968. In the ensuing six decades, ExxonMobil has sown doubt and blocked climate action. Six decades of delay on climate action is six decades too many. America – and the world – does not have time for delay, and it does not have time for Rex Tillerson.

“Rex Tillerson’s ONLY credential is his experience at Exxon. But his responses to Senators were marked by evasion, distortion, and blatant refusal to answer substantive questions about his time at Exxon. Tillerson’s knowledge on any issue in this hearing seems inversely proportional to his involvement in it. With Tillerson unable or unwilling to answer questions about his time at Exxon, this hearing is a farce.”