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Exxon Fined $2M for 'Reckless Disregard' of Sanctions During Tillerson Era
By Jessica Corbett
"It's time Rex Tillerson step down or be removed," said Gigi Kellett of Corporate Accountability International, following an announcement on Thursday that ExxonMobil will pay $2 million for violating U.S. sanctions against Russian officials while the now-secretary of state was the company's CEO.
"ExxonMobil demonstrated reckless disregard for U.S. sanction requirements," according to enforcement filing released by the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which issued the penalty. Though the fine is reportedly the maximum penalty allowed, it's pittance to one of the world's most profitable and powerful corporations, which last year reported a profit of $7.8 billion.
"This is nothing more than a parking ticket," Kellett said.
OFAC said ExxonMobil violated sanctions against Russian officials in May 2014, by "signing eight legal documents related to oil and gas projects in Russia with Igor Sechin, the President of Rosneft," Russia's state-owned oil company. The sanctions were established two months earlier by then-President Barack Obama, in response to the Russian government's actions in Ukraine.
In a statement Thursday, ExxonMobil claimed it "followed the clear guidance from the White House and Treasury Department when its representatives signed the documents," and that "OFAC is trying to retroactively enforce a new interpretation" of the sanctions, adding, "OFAC's action is fundamentally unfair."
The OFAC filing, however, says the company's "senior-most executives knew" the sanctions barred them from signing deals with Sechin, calling ExxonMobil "a sophisticated and experienced oil and gas company" that routinely navigates U.S. sanctions and export rules. Tillerson stepped down as CEO of ExxonMobil in December 2016 to lead the Trump administration's State Department. After the department refused reporters' requests for comment on Thursday, Foreign Policy's Robbie Gramer took to Twitter:
In addition to calling for Tillerson's resignation, Kellett said: "At every level, ExxonMobil and the rest of the fossil fuel industry must be held accountable for their abuses. That may start with this $2 million fine, but it will end when all Big Polluters are held liable for their abuses and cast out of policymaking for good."
Celebrating Thursday's small victory against the world's largest oil company, Greenpeace USA Climate Director Kelly Mitchell said, "Even with Rex Tillerson leading the State Department, people in this country can hold powerful corporations accountable and must continue to do so."
"This move should embolden United States attorneys general in their investigations into what ExxonMobil and Rex Tillerson knew about the risks of climate change and the company's potential withholding of that information from the public and shareholders," Mitchell added.
The attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts have launched probes to investigate reported that the company, for decades, misled its investors and the public about the dangers of climate change. The allegations have also lead to calls for Tillerson to resign from his position as head of the U.S. State Department.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."