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Opposition Grows as Congressional Hearings Begin on Trump's Cabinet Nominations

By Andy Rowell

As Washington gets back to work after the Holiday break and it begins the process of Congressional hearings for nominations over Trump's cabinet, so the resistance to those appointments is increasing too.

You can pick any number of presidential nominees for their regressive and abhorrent policies on women, religion, gay rights or the environment, but for many people a line is crossed in the sand with the appointment of Rex Tillerson, former Exxon chief executive, who stepped down from the oil giant on New Year's day.

Here is a man whose company led the climate denial charge for decades. Here is a man whose company is now subject to a criminal investigation into lying to shareholders and the public about the science and risks of climate change. Here is a man whose company stands accused of human rights abuses too and for more than 40 years has always put Exxon first, no matter the cost to life or the environment. This is a man who has oil running through his veins, not stars and stripes on his heart.

Tillerson is a blinkered oilman to the last … yesterday's man, who believes in yesterday's technology and is wedded to yesterday's thinking.

As Lee Wasserman, the director of the Rockefeller Family Fund, so elegantly wrote in the LA Times, "[Tillerson] rose through its ranks to CEO, but he was so cloistered in its corporate culture that he could not appreciate the decline of an outdated business model. As a case study for MBA students, that's perhaps instructive; as a biography of the nominee to be secretary of State, that's frightening."

As well as decades of old climate denial, Tillerson headed the company in the new era of climate denial, believing that the company could just carry on drilling for oil, no matter the science and increasingly evidence that we cannot burn all the fossil fuel reserves. As more and more influential people warned of stranded assets or unburnable carbon, Exxon kept on drilling.

"Most profoundly, Tillerson has never backed down from Exxon Mobil's position that it can pump and burn all its known fossil fuel reserves," Wasserman said.

Add to that Exxon's disregard for free speech, transparency and Tillerson's closeness to Putin and we have a real problem. "For the next four years a fossil-fuel-friendly Trump administration and Vladimir Putin's Russia could be aligned around one goal: sell as much oil and gas as possible, climate change be damned," argued Wasserman.

To try and placate the growing number of critics and the stench of a conflict of interest, it has been announced that Tillerson has relinquished control of an estimated $240 million in Exxon shares. But that move is unlikley to placate the growing number of critics who oppose Tillerson's nomination.

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