At the Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state nominee and former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, he refused to answer questions about the oil giant’s long history of denying the science of climate change, telling Senators that scientific literature on climate change is “inconclusive.” During the hearing, human rights concerns were also raised repeatedly. Tillerson refused to label Saudi Arabia a human rights violator, and avoided condemning Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte over thousands of extrajudicial killings carried out under Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs.” We are joined from San Francisco by oil and energy journalist Antonia Juhasz.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We turn now to the Senate committee hearing for secretary of state nominee and former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. On Wednesday, Tillerson refused to answer questions about the oil giant’s long history of denying the science of climate change, telling senators that scientific literature on climate change is, quote, “inconclusive.” Exposés by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times have revealed Exxon knew that fossil fuels cause global warming as early as the 1970s, but hid that information from the public and instead poured millions of dollars into PR efforts aimed at sowing doubt over the science of climate change. Tillerson was asked about these reports by Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine.
SEN. TIM KAINE: Are these conclusions about ExxonMobil’s history of promoting and funding climate science denial, despite its internal awareness of the reality of climate change, during your tenure with the company true or false?
REX TILLERSON: Senator, since I’m no longer with ExxonMobil, I’m in no position to speak on their behalf. The question would have to be put to them.
SEN. TIM KAINE: And let me ask you: Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question, or are you refusing to answer my question?
REX TILLERSON: A little of both.