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#ExxonKnew AG’s Comments on Sec. of State Nominee Show Politics at Play

In the wake of the news that ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson has been nominated by the present-elect to serve as Secretary of State, the AGs and activists pushing the #ExxonKnew campaign are only further solidifying the fact that their crusade against the company is driven by politics.

As case in point, immediately after the Tillerson news broke, Attorney General Maura Healey ran to the Boston Globe to suggest that the Exxon CEO should “come clean” and “absolutely answer the questions that we’ve been asking for months now.” Of course, Healey is referring the subpoena that she issued to the company as part in the #ExxonKnew crusade.

This move comes not long after a federal judge issued a discovery order against Healey, and later to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, to determine if they had a political motivation for their probes of Exxon – specifically if “bias or prejudgment” influenced their decision to initiate what could be a “bad faith” investigation.  Let’s just say her latest statements don’t help her case!

Healey wasn’t the only one out there trying to capitalize on politics for #ExxonKnew. NPR also published an interview yesterday with Susanne Rust of the Rockefeller-funded Columbia School of Journalism, which produced the original climate hit pieces on Exxon, to discuss Tillerson’s nomination.

To her credit – and in a departure from her other #ExxonKnew friends – Rust did note that Tillerson “is not a climate change denier,” and went on to admit that under Tillerson’s watch, ExxonMobil “accepted that climate change was real, called it something that was concerning and risky not just to the planet, but to the company.” Of course she still claimed he would be bad for the climate because is “still in the business of supporting the oil and gas business around the world.”

While Healey and her #ExxonKnew friends may not want to admit it, given the pending discovery order, one former AG recently acknowledged that the entire affair is “politically motivated.”  As Douglas Gansler, former Attorney General of Maryland, said at an event held at the Center for American Progress (CAP),

“The idea that AGs are politically motivated is an old one and a real one. Yes, they’re politically motivated in the sense that they are part of the political process; they have to run for office, they have to do what their constituents ask for, the voters that put them in office ask for, and there is no bigger issue that they ought to be thinking about and working on than climate changeAnd yes, that’s politically motivated. It’s good politics.”

Meanwhile the #ExxonKnew message isn’t getting much traction. Instead, mainstream news outlets like CNN Money and the Washington Post, among many others, are reporting on Tillerson’s acceptance of climate science, and his support for a carbon tax and the Paris agreement. Bloomberg’s editorial board even said, “Trump’s Secretary of State Pick Gets Climate Change.” Climatewire reported that Tillerson is actually the best candidate Trump could have chosen regarding climate issues and the international Paris agreement.

David Goldwyn, the State Department’s top energy diplomat under President Barack Obama, noted Tillerson’s climate credentials, saying,

“If there is a chance of having a rational voice at the table on Paris, on climate, on investing in innovation and keeping the United States at the front of … clean energy technology innovation and not taking us out of the conversation, I think we have a good chance that Mr. Tillerson would be a rational voice in that conversation.”

Even well-known entrepreneur Richard Branson tweeted: “Everyone from Sir David Attenborough to Rex Tillerson knows climate change is critical: https://virg.in/Zoc.” He added: “’ExxonMobil has held the view that the risks of climate change are serious and do warrant action.’ Rex Tillerson: https://virg.in/Zoc

We’d have to agree with former AG Doug Gansler — the AGs are clearly “politically motivated” but considering that they’re being ignored, it may not be very “good politics.”

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