Leading climate change advocacy groups express "enormous concerns" about Rex Tillerson

On Monday afternoon, as the announcement of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson‘s nomination as secretary of State loomed, representatives of leading climate change advocacy groups held a telebriefing called #ExxonKnew.

The speakers included Kathy Mulvey, the climate accountability campaign manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists; Annie Leonard, the executive director of Greenpeace; and Bill McKibben, the author and co-founder of 350.0rg, an NGO focused on addressing climate change issues.

“Coupled with the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA administration, there’s a real concern that President-elect Trump is creating a government of, by, and for the oil and gas industry,” Mulvey said in her statement, adding, “The analogy of the nomination of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state would be akin to nominating a tobacco CEO as surgeon general.”

Leonard expressed similar sentiments on behalf of Greenpeace.

“In nominating Rex Tillerson as potential secretary of State, Trump may have found the only person in the country with more conflicts of interest than himself,” she said. “Greenpeace has enormous concerns about this, about what this means for our climate and about what this means for our country. Running the government is really an honor, it’s not a business opportunity.”

Overall, as McKibben put it, progressive activists can expect environmentalists and human rights activists to join forces against Tillerson’s confirmation.

“I think it’s safe to say that the environmental community is going to be joining with people in the human rights community and others in heavily mobilized opposition to this nomination and all that it represents going forward,” McKibben said.

In 2009, Tillerson had said that the carbon tax was “the most efficient means of reflecting the cost of carbon in all economic decisions — from investments made by companies to fuel their requirements to the product choices made by consumers.” Asked whether progressives would be willing to support Tillerson if he hypothetically backed a pro-environment policy like the carbon tax, McKibben was incredulous from the start.

“I think there’s literally no chance that he will follow through on that in any way,” he predicted.

Mulvey then went into a little more detail.

“What the robust carbon cap or tax should really put the economy on a trajectory toward science-based cuts in emissions that are really needed to limit some of the worst impacts of climate change,” she said. “We’d be looking at those considerations as well as a good policy design that would address potential equity implications of the price on carbon.”