|ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson delivers remarks on March 27, 2015, in Washington.|
If it weren't real, it might read like a dark climate change comedy.
President-elect Donald J Trump is expected to turn to the leader of America's largest oil company, and the main villain in a new wave of climate change activism, to lead the State Department: ExxonMobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson. Multiple news organizations reported the pick on Saturday.
Tillerson has worked at Exxon for his entire career, which is important since Exxon is currently under investigation for misleading its investors and the American public about the threat of global warming since the 1970s. The investigations and environmental activism surrounding it are known by the hashtag #ExxonKnew.
Attorneys general in Massachusetts, New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands are leading probes into the company for working to deceive the American public and delay climate action.
The climate investigations are similar to the successful prosecution of the tobacco industry in the 1990s for knowing about the dangers of its products and mounting public relations campaigns to convince the public otherwise.
Environmental groups were quick to criticize Tillerson. After all, the State Department is tasked with leading America's diplomacy on climate change.
“This is unfathomable. We can’t let Trump put the world’s largest oil company in charge of our international climate policy," said Mary Boeve, the executive director of 350.org.
"ExxonMobil is still a leading funder of climate denial and is pursuing a business plan that will destroy our future. Tillerson deserves a federal investigation, not federal office," she said.
The confirmation hearings would provide an opportunity for climate activists to advance the climate investigation since it would put Tillerson under oath before the Foreign Relations Committee. Some pro-climate action members of that panel, such as Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, would likely ask questions to further the investigation.
"We'll be pressuring Senators to turn the confirmation process into a hearing on ExxonMobil’s history of climate deception," Boeve said.