rex tillerson

Trump, Putin, Exxon: What Is Russiagate Really About?

By Kert Davies and David Halperin

Any analysis of Russiagate, and the fateful phone calls between Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the United States, must address the critical fact that U.S. sanctions on Russia are severely damaging Vladimir Putin’s economic power. In particular, these sanctions – imposed by Barack Obama, supported by Hillary Clinton, and repeatedly questioned by Donald Trump and Rex Tillerson – are blocking a lucrative long-term oil agreement between Russia and ExxonMobil, a deal whose value is underscored by a little-noticed 1988 declassified CIA document.

Oil Companies, Corrupt Governments to Benefit as Congress Guts Transparency Rule

Rex Tillerson sitting with Vladimir Putin and Igor Sechin

On February 3, the Republican-led Senate used an obscure procedural tool to end a bipartisan provision meant to fight corruption and overseas oil bribery, a rule opposed by Rex Tillerson as head of ExxonMobil.

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) transparency rule, part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, was created to reduce corruption by requiring drilling and mining companies to disclose royalties and other payments made to governments in exchange for oil, gas, and mining extractions. Critics say overturning the rule could threaten national security.

Rex Tillerson Backs Aggressive Policy in Disputed South China Sea as Exxon, Russia Eye Region’s Oil and Gas

Tillerson getting sworn in as Secretary of State with Trump

President Donald Trump's newly sworn-in Secretary of State, recently retired ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, turned heads when he expressed support for an aggressive military stance against China's actions in the disputed South China Sea during his Senate committee hearing and in response to questions from Democratic Party Committee members.

Tillerson's views on China and the South China Sea territory appear even more concerning against the backdrop of recently aired comments made by Trump's increasingly powerful chief strategist, Steve Bannon, that the two nations were headed toward war in the next five to 10 years, as reported by the Independent (UK). However, what Tillerson did not reveal in his answers is that Exxon, as well as Russian state-owned companies Gazprom and Rosneft, have been angling to tap into the South China Sea's offshore oil and gas bounty.

Exxon’s Fracking Linked to 176 Official Complaints in Rural Pennsylvania

The investigative journalism outlet Public Herald documented that ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy has been the subject of 176 citizen complaints in Pennsylvania, many of them drinking water-related. The state is home to the Marcellus Shale basin, the most prolific field for obtaining natural gas via hydraulic fracturing ('fracking”) in the U.S. and an early hotbed of debate on fracking's potential threats.

In its investigation, the Pennsylvania-based publication spent three years digging up complaints submitted by the state's citizens to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). With documents spanning from 2004–2016, the complaints previously have been concealed from the public, and Public Herald says they show “evidence of widespread and systemic impacts” of fracking on water in the state.

A DeSmog review of files housed on the investigation's document-hosting website, PublicFiles.org, shows dozens upon dozens of these wells were owned by XTO. The finding comes as President Donald Trump's nominees for U.S. Secretary of State, recently retired ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Oklahoma Attorney General and EPA antagonist Scott Pruitt, await full U.S. Senate floor hearings and eventual confirmation votes.

Key Trump Donor Stands to Profit from Order to Approve Keystone XL, Dakota Access Pipelines

On January 24, President Donald Trump signed two executive orders calling for the approval of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, owned by Energy Transfer Partners and TransCanada, respectively. He also signed an order calling for expedited environmental reviews of domestic infrastructure projects, such as pipelines.

Fights against both pipelines have ignited nationwide grassroots movements for over the past five years and will almost assuredly sit at the epicenter of similar backlash moving forward. As DeSmog has reported, Donald Trump's top presidential campaign energy aide Harold Hamm stands to profit if both pipelines go through. 

Hamm, the founder and CEO of Continental Resources who sat in the VIP box at Trump's inauguration and was a major Trump campaign donor, would see his company's oil obtained from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the Bakken Shale flow through both lines. Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, was also a major Trump donor.

Exxon’s Rex Tillerson and the Rise of Big Oil in American Politics

Vladimir Putin and Rex Tillerson in 2012

By Pennsylvania State University

How Big Oil Bought the White House and Tried to Steal the Country” is the subtitle of a book that tells the story of a presidential election in which a candidate allowed money from big oil companies to help him win office and then rewarded them with plum appointments in his cabinet.

With President Donald Trump picking former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, one might think the book is an early exposé of the presidential election of 2016.

Instead, it’s from “The Teapot Dome Scandal,” a book that tells the story of a corruption scandal that rocked the term of President Warren G. Harding’s administration in the 1920s.

Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record

Rex Tillerson

During his Secretary of State confirmation hearing, recently retired ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson came under questioning by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) about his stance on Saudi Arabia's awful human rights record, a country which contains the biggest oil reserves on the planet and is a long-time ally of the U.S.

While Tillerson offered mild criticism of Saudi Arabia's treatment of women, LGBQT people, and others, several Senators found his response far from full-throated and said as much. A DeSmog investigation shows that Exxon has long been involved in Saudi Arabia's oil and gas industry. Not only did the company, through its predecessor Standard Oil, help launch the industry there and co-owned the country's first major export pipeline, but to this day it maintains deep business ties with Saudi Arabia and the industry in a variety of sectors, both there and in the U.S.

Will Rex Tillerson Come Clean About What #ExxonKnew, As Company Itself Has Been Ordered To Do?

Caricature of Rex Tillerson

Update 1/19/2017: Our Children's Trust, a legal NGO helping represent the youth case, posted that Rex Tillerson's deposition is being delayed while the case's lawyers meet to resolve a dispute.

Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of State, is set to be deposed today by lawyers for a group of 21 young plaintiffs, aged 9 to 20, who filed a lawsuit claiming the U.S. government failed to protect their rights to life, liberty, and property by not taking action to halt global warming.

The deposition comes just one day before Trump is to be inaugurated as U.S. president — and a little more than a week after a Massachusetts judge ruled that Exxon must hand over more than 40 years of its internal research on climate change, denying the oil giant’s request for a protective order that would have blocked Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's subpoenas.

Here's a Review of Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson's Secretary of State Hearing So Far

Rex Tillerson

Long-time ExxonMobil employee and former CEO Rex Tillerson's U.S. Secretary of State confirmation hearing has begun. As expected, it has created waves, covering topics from climate change, foreign policy in Russia and Ukraine, the Islamic State (ISIS), and far beyond. 

His U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing has faced protests both on the outside and on the inside, including several hearing interruptions, with protestors removed from the room by the U.S. Capitol Police. Tillerson's cozy ties to Russia have come under question by senators on both sides of the aisle and Democrats have peppered him with questions about his personal views, as well as Exxon's views, on climate change.

A theme has developed: Tillerson has offered in-depth answers on foreign policy generally speaking, but punted for the most part on questions pertaining to his time heading up the world's largest oil and gas company.

Exxon, Qatar Petroleum Get OK to Export U.S. Fracked Gas Amidst Tangled Ties to Russia, ISIS

Saturday Night Live skit showing parody of Tillerson, Putin, and Trump

Just days before Christmas, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave ExxonMobil a gift: a permit to export natural gas from its Golden Pass LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility located in Sabine Pass, Texas. 

Dubbed Golden Pass Products, the expansion of this LNG facility to export gas is a joint venture between Exxon (30 percent stake) and Qatar Petroleum (70 percent stake), the state-owned oil company. Golden Pass LNG is now the fourth LNG export facility, and third situated along the Gulf of Mexico, approved under the Obama administration.

This facility will continue to open up the global market to U.S. natural gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”)

The permit for Golden Pass comes shortly after Exxon's CEO, Rex Tillerson, was named Trump's nominee for U.S. Secretary of State and will likely face a tough Senate confirmation hearing in January, mainly due to his close ties to Russia.

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