Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Rex Tillerson to Testify in Exxon Climate Crisis Fraud Case

Business
Rex Tillerson to Testify in Exxon Climate Crisis Fraud Case
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives at Travis Air Force Base, California on June 2, 2017. U.S. Air Force / Louis Briscese

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."

Valley of the Gods in the heart of Bears Ears National Monument. Mint Images / Getty Images

By Sharon Buccino

This week, Secretary Haaland chose a visit to Bears Ears National Monument as her first trip as Interior Secretary. She is spending three days in Bluff, Utah, a small town just outside the monument, listening to representatives of the five tribes who first proposed its designation to President Obama in 2015. This is the same town where former Secretary Sally Jewell spent several hours at a public hearing in July 2016 before recommending the monument's designation to President Obama.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Pexels

By Anthony Richardson, Chhaya Chaudhary, David Schoeman, and Mark John Costello

The tropical water at the equator is renowned for having the richest diversity of marine life on Earth, with vibrant coral reefs and large aggregations of tunas, sea turtles, manta rays and whale sharks. The number of marine species naturally tapers off as you head towards the poles.

Read More Show Less
Trending
"Secrets of the Whales" is a new series that will start streaming on Disney+ on Earth Day. Disney+

In celebration of Earth Day, a star-studded cast is giving fans a rare glimpse into the secret lives of some of the planet's most majestic animals: whales. In "Secrets of the Whales," a four-part documentary series by renowned National Geographic Photographer and Explorer Brian Skerry and Executive Producer James Cameron, viewers plunge deep into the lives and worlds of five different whale species.

Read More Show Less
Spring is an excellent time to begin bird watching in earnest. Eugenio Marongiu / Cultura / Getty Images

The coronavirus has isolated many of us in our homes this year. We've been forced to slow down a little, maybe looking out our windows, becoming more in tune with the rhythms of our yards. Perhaps we've begun to notice more, like the birds hopping around in the bushes out back, wondering (maybe for the first time) what they are.

Read More Show Less
The brown pelican is seen on Queen Bess Island in Louisiana in March 2021. Casey Wright / LDWF biologist

Who says you can't go home again?

Read More Show Less