Environmentalists are deeply concerned about President-elect Donald Trump's choice for secretary of state. Trump has nominated Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerman, a man whose name sounds suspiciously like Tex Drillerman, a cartoon oil baron that lives in our collective imaginations. And although he doesn't actually wear a 10-gallon hat and shoot guns in the air (that we know of), Rex Tillerson's quotes about the environment are about as bad as one would expect. And while Tillerson himself is one of the few people in Trump's proposed Cabinet that actually accepts climate change as scientific fact, according to TIME, his company is alleged to have covered up the risks of climate change for decades. Romper's request for comment was not immediately returned.
Tillerson himself refutes the notion that climate change is man-made (and thereby a product of his company, among others), and argued against trying to halt or reverse it at Exxon Mobil's annual shareholders' meeting last year, according to the Dallas Morning News. "What if everything we do, it turns out our models are lousy, and we don’t get the effects we predict?" Tillerson reportedly said. "Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity, and those solutions will present themselves as those challenges become clear."
Speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in 2012, Tillerson lauded natural gas while completely omitting the environmental effects of fracking
Natural gas obviously brings with it a number of quality-of-life environmental benefits because it is a relatively clean-burning fuel. It has a CO2 footprint, but it has no particulates. It has none of the other emissions elements that are of concern to public health that other forms of power-generation fuels do have: coal, fuel oil, others.
Fracking is notoriously controversial for its potential to contaminate surface and ground water, and trigger earthquakes, both of which are absolutely public health concerns. And notice how Tillerson spoke as though solar and wind power are non-existant? Troubling.
And as far as actually mitigating the harm that Exxon Mobil and other energy companies have caused the environment, Tillerson's comments basically amount to "Eh, don't worry about it." During the CFR appearance, he shrugged off rising sea levels: "Changes to weather patterns that move crop production areas around – we'll adapt to that. It's an engineering problem, and it has engineering solutions."
Back in 2008, he told ABC News' Charlie Gibson:
The last element of this, obviously, is how do we do all of this and accommodate the serious environmental concerns that the country and the world has with our use of energy. And that is all going to be enabled through technology.
Engineering. Technology. It's all being taken care of by some very smart people in lab coats, never you mind. As for when, and how, Tillerson seems to have no comment.