Rex Tillerson to Testify in Exxon Climate Crisis Fraud Case
The case New York State has brought against ExxonMobil for defrauding investors about the the true cost of the climate crisis is in its second week and is seeing a star witness take the stand Wednesday.
Rex Tillerson, the company's former CEO and Trump's first secretary of state, will testify about his role in pricing the value of Exxon's assets as governments around the world ramp up regulations to combat the global climate crisis, according to The New York Times.
Tillerson was Exxon's CEO from 2006 until he left the post to join Trump's cabinet in 2017. During his tenure as CEO, Exxon communicated to investors that it had created a robust system of "proxy costs" to assess the future impact of climate crisis regulations, valuing it at $80 per ton of carbon emissions. However, that was fraud, alleges the State of New York, since Exxon used internal figures as low as $40 per ton of carbon, and sometimes used no figures at all, according to Reuters.
New York says the difference in numbers cost investors to overvalue the company's stock by $476 million to $1.6 billion, as EcoWatch reported when the trial began last week.
The fuzzy math "exposed the company to greater risk from climate change regulation than investors were led to believe," according to the lawsuit, and it occurred under Tillerson's watch. The case leans heavily on Tillerson's public comments, including a remark from a 2016 shareholder meeting in which he claimed that the company accounted for climate crisis regulation. "We have accommodated that uncertainty in the future and everything gets tested against it," said Tillerson at the shareholder meeting, as The New York Times reported. "[That cost] gets put into all our economic models when we make investment decisions as well."
Exxon said the case is false and politically motivated. Theodore Wells, a lawyer for the company, explained the price differential in his opening statement. He said that the $80 per ton proxy cost reflected a macroeconomic, global assessment of the cost, while the lower figures were assigned to particular capital projects. He added that Exxon never said the two numbers were the same to investors, according to Reuters.
Well said in his opening statement that Tillerson "put in place a robust system to manage the risk of increasing climate change regulations," The New York Times reported.
One of the stranger parts of Tillerson's testimony is likely to focus on an on-line pseudonym that Tillerson used, Wayne Tracker. Tillerson had a separate email account at Exxon issued to Wayne Tracker (Wayne is his middle name). Even though New York State issued a subpoena for all of the emails in the Wayne Tracker account, which Tillerson did use for company business, Exxon destroyed all of the Tracker emails prior to mid-August 2015 — almost a decade's worth of emails, according to The New York Times.
Wells claimed destroying the emails was just part of how the company's system was configured and that not only would any information in them be insignificant, but it would also be through the recipients' accounts.
"It's hard to understand how Tillerson's emails could not be highly relevant here," said Stephen Gillers, a professor at the New York University School of Law, to The New York Times. "He spent a decade as CEO and chairman. To the extent that some emails are not available from his account or the accounts of others, the court loses information and information is the cornerstone of accurate verdicts."
- Exxon Goes on Trial for Lying About the Climate Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- ExxonMobil Accused of Pressuring Witnesses in Climate Fraud Case ›
By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Bill McKibben
To understand the planetary importance of this autumn's presidential election, check the calendar. Voting ends on November 3—and by a fluke of timing, on the morning of November 4 the United States is scheduled to pull out of the Paris Agreement.
President Trump announced that we would abrogate our Paris commitments during a Rose Garden speech in 2017. But under the terms of the accords, it takes three years to formalize the withdrawal. So on Election Day it won't be just Americans watching: The people of the world will see whether the country that has poured more carbon into the atmosphere than any other over the course of history will become the only country that refuses to cooperate in the one international effort to do something about the climate crisis.
By Oliver Milman
The climate crisis is set to be a significant factor in a U.S. presidential election for the first time, with new polling showing a clear majority of American voters want decisive action to deal with the threats posed by global heating.
Do you support or oppose each of the following policies as part of the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic?<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzODcyMC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjg4MzY4OX0.B-bt9mltOhK0MHFbzK8G3_8sBkDAeUsAWm-AhNZYoxQ/img.png?width=980" id="acd43" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8724178274b9f96e27055f74a1bafe20" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
America's largest national forest, Tongass National Forest in Alaska, will be opened up to logging and road construction after the Trump administration finalizes its plans to open up the forest on Friday, according to The New York Times.
Aerial view of the Tongass National Forest. Alan Wu / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
- Trump Admin Proposes Drilling for Oil in National Forests - EcoWatch ›
- Forest Service Wants to Fast-Track Logging Without Environmental ... ›
- Trump Admin Moves Closer to Slashing Protections for World's ... ›
- Judge Rules Against Trump's Attempt to Log in America's Largest ... ›
- Trump Moves to Open 16.7 Million Acre Alaskan Rainforest to ... ›
By Ruby Russell and Ajit Niranjan
Hamstrung by coronavirus lockdowns, frustrated school strikers have spent months staging digital protests against world leaders failing to act urgently on climate change.
Pandemic Stalls Protests<p>Last November, the head of the UN Environment Program was among the public and scientific figures to warn that 2020 offered a last chance to cut emissions. Then, few could have suspected this deadline would coincide with an unprecedented public health emergency.</p><p>The pandemic has <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/tough-times-ahead-for-climate-protesters-during-corona-pandemic/a-52978469" target="_blank">dealt climate activism a blow</a>. Niedeggen says that as a movement demanding that the world act on scientific advice, the school strikers took lockdown restrictions extremely seriously, halted public protests immediately and took their activism online.</p><p>On April 24, Fridays for Future organized a "digital strike," with Niedeggen hosting a that racked up close to a quarter of a million views. "We were not physically standing together, but we were all fighting together," she says.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-strikers-get-inventive-during-the-covid-19-crisis-fridays-for-future/a-53229262" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Activists also gathered thousands of placards</a> from across Germany to lay out in front of the German Bundestag around the central slogan: "Fight every crisis."</p>
Opportunity for a New Normal<p>Last September's Global Climate Strike drew young and old protestors around the world, with organizers estimating a global turnout of 7.6 million, including an estimated 270,000 people in Berlin. Activists have adjusted this year's event to account for social distancing and different levels of coronavirus restrictions in cities taking part.</p><p>They say COVID-19 also presents opportunities.</p><p>"The pandemic shows that we can change our normal daily life, and we are very able to adjust to a situation of crisis," she says. The key question is how economies get back on their feet: "We have the possibility to build a new normal, to build a renewable world order, and an environmentally just, climate-just normal for everybody."</p><p>In July, Jeng was among 20 female Fridays for Future activists from the Global South to sign an open letter to G20 finance ministers warning that their decisions in "exclusive backrooms" over stimulus packages and corporate bailouts would "lock in development pathways for decades."</p><p>"The system is not broken, it was built to be unjust. We don't need recovery, we need a reboot," the letter reads, stressing that "black people, indigenous peoples and people of color," have been disproportionately hit by the economic, climate and coronavirus crises. </p>
Policy 'Not Quite There Yet'<p>Figures on stimulus spending do not suggest their words had much impact. The ministers were criticized for failing to relieve the debt of poorer countries, and according to <a href="https://www.energypolicytracker.org/region/g20/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Policy Tracker</a>, G20 countries by August had pledged $169 billion (142 billion euros) to fossil fuels since the beginning of the pandemic.</p><p>Katrin Uba, associate professor of political science at Uppsala University in Sweden, is researching Fridays for Future. She says that despite the movement raising awareness and gaining access to policymakers, real policy change "is not there yet."</p><p>Still, she stresses that social movements go through waves of mobilization as public attention on their core issues ebbs and flows. And perhaps one of Fridays for Future's biggest achievements is birthing a politically active generation that will keep the fight up long after corona becomes a memory. </p><p>"We know clearly from our research that many of the people who came to the streets hadn't done any protesting before in their lives," she told DW. "And we also know that if you do one protest, you are likely to do more."</p>
- 60,000-Strong Fridays for Future Protest in Hamburg, Germany ... ›
- 7.6 Million Join Week of Global Climate Strikes - EcoWatch ›
- Greta Thunberg Kicks Off Third Year of Fridays for Future Protests ... ›