rex tillerson

Shale Gas Uncertainty: How an Industry Talking Point Misses the Mark

When oil and gas executives gathered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to discuss the state of the industry shortly after Obama won re-election, they raised a recurring complaint.

“We now face four more years of regulatory uncertainty,” said Randy Alpert, an official with Consol energy told gathered shale gas executives.

Penny Seipel, Vice President of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association hit a similar note the very next day.

“Unfortunately, we have had quite a bit of uncertainty regarding our fiscal situation,” she said as she described proposed regulation and taxation of drilling companies in her state.

This uncertainty mantra has been trotted out by many industries facing potential oversight and is now being picked up by oil and gas: “We are not against regulation, we are against regulatory uncertainty,” the line goes. “We don’t care what the rules are,” companies say, “just tell us ahead of time and then we will follow them gladly.”

This well-worn trope gives the impression that drillers do not view regulators as adversaries. All they’re asking for is common-sense fairness. Who could be against someone asking to know what the rules are? Predictability is a reasonable request.

It's a shrewd position for the shale industry. But it’s also deeply misleading and worth flagging now since it is likely to get amplified in coming months as more attention turns to whether federal officials should step up their oversight of oil and gas drilling.

Exxon's Tillerson: Could We Really Have Expected a Tiger to Change its Stripes?

By Cindy Baxter, originally published at

When Greenpeace first began focussing on ExxonMobil's funding of climate denial, its CEO and Chairman was arch denier Lee Raymond.

Raymond had spent years - and millions - on denying the science of climate change, both in funding right wing think tanks and scientists, and in his role as chair of the American Petroleum Institute's climate change committee.  A 1998 document revealed ExxonMobil plotting with some of those think tanks to challenge climate science. 

For years, Exxon had paid for expensive, weekly “Opinion Advertorials” on the New York Times opinion pages challenging the science (see image).

When Raymond stepped down and Rex Tillerson  took over in 2006, we hoped the worst was over.  That year, ExxonMobil dropped its funding of the Competitive Enterprise Institute that ran the charmingly titled “Cooler Heads Coalition”. The final straw for ExxonMobil was the CEI's “C02 is life” advert (this links to an annotated version, but it's the original ad) positing that we couldn't get enough of the stuff.  

In dropping the CEI, ExxonMobil told everyone it had been “misunderstood” on its stance on climate change - and the media were led to believe that this tiger had changed its stripes. Its “Corporate Responsibility report” that year stated it was dropping its funding of a few think tanks because their “‘position on climate change diverted attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure the energy required for economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.”

And yet, the company continued to fund deniers and does to this day. As of May last year, Exxon has poured a total of $26,061,235 into the campaign against climate denial.  While the funding in 2010 was just above $1 million, well down from its 2005 peak of $3.478 million, in 2010 Exxon started funding one of the think tanks that it had dropped and arguably the first off the blocks in the climate denial campaign, the George C Marshall Institute.  The Koch brothers have taken up where Exxon left off, but its legacy is clear.

Dirty Energy Industry Front Groups Launch Misleading PR Blitz Against President Obama

The American Energy Alliance (AEA) isn’t pulling any punches with their new advertising campaign, spending millions of dollars to air 45 million ad spots on Pandora Radio. They are attempting to hang the high cost of gasoline around the neck of President Obama, using a series of arguments that actually have nothing to do with how much Americans are paying for gasoline.

Here is the YouTube version of their ad, titled “$9 Dollar Gas”:

Before dissecting their arguments, it’s important to remember that the American Energy Alliance is a non-profit organization established by the oil industry to carry out lobbying activities. As such, their donors are kept secret. However, AEA president Thomas Pyle is also the leader of a related organization called the Institute for Energy Research, which has received funding from the usual suspects – Exxon and Koch Industries. In fact, Pyle formerly served as a Koch Industries lobbyist.

WPI Students Protest ExxonMobil Speaker at Graduation

After four grueling years of late nights studying and more Ramen noodles than any one person should ever consume, most students don’t find themselves protesting their own graduation. Yet on Saturday, a group of graduates from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) did just that as a row of seats towards the back were left empty for them. No, they weren’t protesting the abhorrent prices of graduation gowns they would never wear again or the absence of top-shelf champagne at the ceremony: they were protesting its speaker.

As soon as WPI announced Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, would be this year’s graduation speaker, many students suddenly were “left confused, even betrayed,” graduating senior Katrina Crocker told DeSmogBlog. It didn’t make sense that WPI, a school recognized as one of the greenest universities in the nation, would invite the CEO of one of the largest dirty energy companies on the planet to address the class of 2011. In contrast to WPI’s green priorities, ExxonMobil reaps billions in dirty energy profits while polluting the environment and contributing to global climate change, all while simultaneously funding front groups to attack climate scientists and confuse the public.

Top EIA Energy Trends Watcher: No Definitive Count on Dirty Energy Welfare

The national conversation about wasteful welfare for highly profitable dirty energy corporations has gone from the dramatic statement by the Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency that fossil fuel subsidies are one of the biggest impediments to global economic recovery (“the appendicitis of the global energy system which needs to be removed for a healthy, sustainable development future”), to a speech by Solar Energy Industries Association President Rhone Resch (in which he called the fossil fuel industry “grotesquely oversubsidized”), to a call by President Obama to cut oil company welfare by $4 billion. Not to be outdone, House Democrats are now calling for a $40 billion cut.

Dirty energy welfare defenders have, predictably, responded with ridiculous, Palin-esque denials of reality, but the voter demands that wasteful spending be cut begs the question: just how much of our tax money is going to ExxonMobil, Massey, etc.? With the new deficit hawks in Congress going after insignificant items like bottled water expenses, you’d think they’d want to know the size of the really wasteful stuff, right?

ExxonMobil Still the Bull in the Climate Shop

He was going to be smooth. Polished. Charming. The new face of ExxonMobil, presented to us back in March 2006:

“We recognize that climate change is a serious issue,” Mr. Tillerson said during a 50-minute interview last week, pointing to a recent company report that acknowledged the link between the consumption of fossil fuels and rising global temperatures. “We recognize that greenhouse gas emissions are one of the factors affecting climate change.”

That image completely fell apart at a news conference yesterday.

ExMo Chief: energy independence is "isolationist"

On the same day Hilary Clinton released her plan to reduce the US addiction to foreign oil imports and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the CEO of the largest oil company in the world is balking at the pursuit for energy independence.

Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has hit out at “isolationism” in energy policy (full article is firewalled) arguing that attempts to pursue energy independence are futile and counter-productive.

Tillerson stated that:

Regardless, no conceivable combination of demand moderation or domestic supply development can realistically close the gap and eliminate Americans' need for imports.”

His remarks, made at the World Energy Congress in Rome, provided support for calls from Opec, the oil producers' cartel, for what the group calls “security of demand”.


Exxon's "Rumsfeldian" position on climate change

Looks like ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson dusted off Donald Rumsfeld's PR play-book in explaining Exxon's stance on global warming, here's the quote:

There's much we know and can agree on around the climate change issue, and there’s much that we just don’t believe we do know…and we want to have a debate about the things we know and understand, the things we know about that we don’t understand very well, and the things we don’t even know about around this very complex issue of climate science. So that will continue to be our position.”

Thanks for clearing that up Mr. Tillerson.

Rex, We Know About 3,000 Scientists You Might Ask

ExxonMobil Chief Executive Rex Tillerson continued his company's history of questioning the causes of climate change. Talking to shareholders, Tillerson said: “We don't have a difference of views that it's an important issue. We have differences about what we know and what we don't know.”

Science Committee Chair Demands Exxon reveal 2007 think tank grants

Rep. Brad Miller (D-North Carolina), chair of the House Subcommittee on Science and Technology, fired off a strong letter (pdf) to ExxonMobil demanding that the oil giant hand over documents relating to all grants awarded so far in 2007 by recipient

Could this be the first step in a Congressional hearing similar to Rep. Henry Waxman's famous Big Tobacco Hearings?

Sure looks that way.


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