Environment

Protesters Rally Outside Rex Tillerson's Secretary of State Hearing in D.C.

Highlighting Tillerson's climate crimes and human rights abuses, demonstrators show mass opposition to the Exxon chief's nomination.

Protest against Rex Tillerson nomination - January 11, 2017, Washington, D.C.
Photo Credit: Eman Mohammed/350.org

Washington, DC -- Joined by 15 T-Rex dinosaurs, more than 200 people marched through the U.S. Capitol and rallied outside of the Dirksen Building to demonstrate mass public opposition to the appointment of recent former CEO of ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, urging senators to #RejectRex.

“We won’t allow our climate diplomacy to be in the hands of a dinosaur like Rex Tillerson,” said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “By tapping Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, Donald Trump is essentially declaring war on our planet and betting against a livable future. Tillerson would undoubtedly prioritize Exxon and its ilk above the well-being of the American people.”

Participants kicked off the day at an Exxon gas station to illustrate that as Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson would prioritize Exxon and its ilk over the American people. From there, the crowd march through the U.S. Capitol for a rally outside Dirksen where Tillerson’s hearing was taking place.

(credit: Eman Mohammed/350.org)

Speakers particularly spotlighted Tillerson’s role in all that #ExxonKnew about climate change. Investigative reports revealed that as far back as the 1970s, Exxon’s own scientists warned company executives about the dangers of fossil fuel use on our climate, but executives instead ignored these warnings and embarked on an ongoing decades-long campaign of deception and doubt.

“Nominating Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State is synonymous with foreclosing on our future,” said Deirdre Shelly, U.S. National Organizer with 350.org. “As the former CEO of Exxon, Tillerson is the ultimate swamp monster. We will keep fighting until we have an economy that truly works for all of us.”

Inside of the hearing, three separate disruptions took place in the first hour alone, spotlighting the role that Tillerson has played in perpetuating the climate crisis and devastating the lives and livelihoods of communities from New York to Texas and around the world.

At the hearing, Tillerson dodged questions about the fossil fuel company’s decades-long knowledge of climate change and funding of climate denial. Boeve said of the Exxon chief's performance: “Tillerson is still lying about what Exxon knew about climate change. Asked directly about the company’s climate cover-up, Tillerson demurred and denied. We need a Secretary of State who acknowledges that the climate crisis requires bold action, not an oil industry CEO who is dedicated to spreading misinformation. Tillerson deserves a federal investigation into Exxon’s lies, not a cabinet appointment.”

The demonstration comes just two days after thousands of people in nearly all 50 states took action in a #DayAgainstDenial calling on senators to reject Trump’s Climate Denial Cabinet. Ahead of the hearing, 57 national organizations representing foreign policy, civil rights, climate, human rights, faith, labor, development and transparency issues sent a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging senators to reject Tillerson.

(credit: Eman Mohammed/350.org)

To this day, ExxonMobil funds climate-denial front groups to sow deception about climate change and block action at every level. With Tillerson as CEO, ExxonMobil received penalties for skirting U.S. laws totaling more than $81 million dollars since 2010.

“Tillerson has never worked anywhere besides Exxon. It’s impossible to separate Tillerson’s climate crimes and human rights abuses from those of Exxon,” said Boeve. “The fight to reject Rex and Trump’s climate denial cabinet is only the beginning.”

Lindsay Meiman is the U.S. Communications Coordinator at 350.org. Follow her on Twitter @lindsaymeim14.

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