Author: Alexander C. Kaufman

New Exxon Mobil CEO Echoes Rex Tillerson’s Skepticism On Climate Science

  Darren Woods, the new chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp., mirrored his predecessor’s skeptical view on climate change in his first interview since taking over at the oil and gas giant. Woods, who was promoted to CEO last month when Rex Tillerson stepped down to become secretary of state, acknowledged that unmitigated global warming poses risks that can’t be ignored. But he stopped short of recognizing emissions from burning fossil fuels as the chief cause. “We understand there’s action needed to address the risk associated with that,” Woods said in a glowing 2,200-word profile published Monday morning by Forbes. Under Tillerson, Exxon Mobil reversed decades of company policy by recognizing that the climate is indeed changing. In 2009, the Texas-based firm publicly backed putting a tax on carbon, a move that some saw as a distraction from congressional debate over a cap-and-trade bill. In 2015, the company supported the Paris climate agreement, the first global deal to cut greenhouse gases that included the U.S. and China, the world’s biggest polluters. Yet as recently as 2016, Exxon Mobil was still paying millions to groups that either question fossil fuels’ role in climate change or deny the science outright. During the last two election cycles, the firm donated heavily to Republicans, who remain one of the only major political parties in the world to question climate science. Anti-climate hawks Rep. Lamar...

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EPA Chief Scott Pruitt’s Allies Move To Block Release Of More Emails

The Oklahoma attorney general’s office has asked the state’s highest court to block the release of more emails between energy companies and Scott Pruitt, the state’s former top cop who became Environmental Protection Agency chief. The initial batch of 7,564 documents made public on Tuesday by the Wisconsin-based watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy revealed a chummy relationship between Pruitt and oil and gas players whose pollution he’s now tasked with policing as the nation’s top environmental regulator. Now the office that Pruitt occupied until the Senate approved his confirmation last Friday has requested a stay on District Court of Oklahoma County Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons’ order to release another trove of documents by next week. “This maneuver is just more stonewalling by Team Pruitt to prevent the American people from seeing public records of national interest that should have been turned over prior to Pruitt’s confirmation as head of the EPA,” said Lisa Graves, executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, in a statement. “Pruitt’s office had many months to provide his emails with corporate polluters, but is now complaining they don’t have enough time.” The Oklahoma Supreme Court will consider the stay request at a hearing scheduled for Tuesday. If the court declines the request, the attorney general’s office has until March 3 to release the documents. President Donald Trump filled his Cabinet with...

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Nobody Seems To Have Liked Working For Donald Trump’s New Labor Pick

WASHINGTON ― In 2014, R. Alexander Acosta, President Donald Trump’s second pick for U.S. secretary of labor, became a top candidate to lead the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. But after the interview process began, faculty at the school rejected the former U.S. attorney and assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, citing ethical concerns and questions about his ties to Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), a tea party favorite who has railed against what he calls “liberal academic theorists.” “We had a number of concerns to start off with,” Michelle Jacobs, a distinguished professor of law at the school who helped lead the inquiry, told The Huffington Post. “In the end, we weren’t comfortable with him.” If confirmed, Acosta would lead more than 17,000 employees as secretary of labor, a position meant to protect the rights of American workers. The Labor Department was established in 1913 ― two years after the infamous fire at New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory left 146 people dead ― following decades of bloody clashes between workers and industry barons. As secretary, Acosta would be tasked with improving wages, benefits and working conditions for U.S. workers, and administering more than 180 federal laws and thousands of regulations. But his record during the Bush administration raises major questions about Acosta’s ability to oversee the proper enforcement of labor laws and regulations. Acosta’s...

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Donald Trump’s Interior Pick Compares Oil Drilling To Hunting And Fishing

When President-elect Donald Trump nominated Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) to become interior secretary, the freshman congressman’s record as a lifelong hunter and fisher became a major selling point. He sold himself as a Theodore Roosevelt fanboy. Environmental groups that vehemently opposed other nominees took a softer tone on Zinke, who one activist said was the “most balanced” Cabinet pick yet. That’s why one remark Zinke made during his Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday struck such a dissonant chord. First, he railed against federal land designations that make it harder for outdoorsmen to access traditional hunting and fishing grounds, which he said makes the sports elitist. Then he compared shooting a deer or hooking a trout to drilling deep underground to extract fuel. “There are some areas that need to be set aside that are absolutely appropriate for man to be an observer, and I think there are special places in our country that deserve that recognition,” he said. “But a lot of it is traditional uses of what we find in North Dakota and Montana, where you can hunt, you can fish, you can drill an oil well.” Much of the hearing focused on federal control over public lands, as Republican senators urged Zinke to reverse conservation efforts carried out by President Barack Obama. Zinke said his top priority would be restoring good relations with state officials who felt...

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Trump’s Commerce Pick Outsourced Thousands Of Jobs And Oversaw A Deadly Coal Disaster

President-elect Donald Trump pledged during his campaign to scrap key global trade deals, reverse the flow of manufacturing jobs overseas and bring well-paying mining jobs back to coal country. Those promises may prompt some awkward questions for Wilbur Ross, the billionaire Trump nominated to become commerce secretary, at his Senate confirmation hearing this Wednesday. The 79-year-old private equity mogul earned the nicknames “bottom feeder” and “king of bankruptcy” in the mid-2000s, when he became known for buying up decaying businesses, including steels mills, coal mines and textile factories. At the time the U.S. economy was shedding more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs each year as companies moved factories to countries like China, where labor was cheap and safety and environmental rules were few. Ross reaped profits by stripping workers of health benefits, ignoring safety concerns and sending jobs abroad, where workers expect lower wages. In total, Ross offshored roughly 2,700 jobs at companies he invested in since 2004, according to Labor Department data Reuters published on Tuesday. In 2004, Ross bought Cone Mills, a struggling North Carolina textile company, and combined it with another factory to form International Textile Group. He later renamed the company Cone Denim, and as Bloomberg reported in 2012, expanded production “in less-expensive emerging markets” and moved to “eliminate duplicative facilities.” The firm operated two mills in Mexico and one in China. In 2004, Cone Mills...

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Exxon Continued Paying Millions To Climate-Change Deniers Under Rex Tillerson

Exxon Mobil Corp. promised nine years ago to stop donating to groups that spread misinformation about climate change. Yet between 2008 and 2015, the oil giant’s charitable arm gave over $6.5 million to groups that deny that burning fossil fuels is causing global warming, a new analysis shows. The analysis, which the advocacy nonprofit NextGen Climate put together and The Huffington Post independently verified, includes donations to industry associations, which tend toward skepticism on environmental concerns, and research organizations that openly oppose the scientific consensus on climate change. The Exxon Mobil Foundation donations are disclosed in publicly available documents, but they cast fresh doubt on the supposed shift on climate change that outgoing CEO Rex Tillerson oversaw in his decade leading the company. Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, will likely face scrutiny for his stance on global warming in two Senate confirmation hearings scheduled for Wednesday. The analysis does not include data from 2016, but still represents a conservative estimate. A broader analysis by the Climate Investigations Center, which included Exxon’s contributions to trade groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, pegged the company’s donations to climate science deniers at $9.9 million between 2008 and 2015. Exxon Mobil donated a total of $800,000 to the National Black Chamber of Commerce between 2008 and 2015. Harry Alford, the association’s chief executive, once suggested in a statement on the group’s website...

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Rex Tillerson Cuts All Ties With Exxon Mobil To Avoid Conflicts

(Reuters) – Exxon Mobil Corp and Rex Tillerson agreed to sever all ties to comply with conflict-of-interest requirements as the company’s former chairman and chief executive awaits confirmation as U.S. secretary of state. If his appointment is confirmed, the value of more than 2 million deferred Exxon Mobil shares (worth about $182 million at Tuesday’s closing price) that Tillerson would have received over the next 10 years will be transferred to an independently managed trust, the company said in a statement. The share awards will be canceled and Tillerson will also surrender entitlement to more than $4.1 million in cash bonuses, scheduled to pay out over the next three years, and other benefits,Exxon Mobil said. Separately, Tillerson also committed to the State Department that, if confirmed, he would sell the more than 600,000 Exxon shares he currently owns, the company said. Exxon said last month its president, Darren Woods, will become chief executive and chairman in January following the retirement of Tillerson. Tillerson could face a rocky confirmation process, given concerns among both Democrats and Republicans about his ties to Russia. Exxon stock has gained 6.5 percent since election results of Nov. 8 up to Tuesday’s close of $90.89. (Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier) Suggest a...

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Donald Trump’s EPA Pick Championed Exxon Mobil After Donations To Association He Led

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, became one of Exxon Mobil Corp.’s fiercest defenders this year as the oil giant battled legal probes into its funding of climate science deniers. Exxon Mobil, meanwhile, served as a major donor to the Republican Attorneys General Association, of which the Oklahoma attorney general served as chairman in 2012 and ‘13 and remains a member. The company donated $50,000 to the group in April, a month earlier than usual, this year. The firm gave the same amount in May of last year, and $60,000 the same month in 2014, according to data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Exxon Mobil has a long history of donating to Republican organizations, and Pruitt has deep ties to the fossil fuel industry. However, the extent to which Pruitt led the charge to defend the company against investigations by other state attorneys general appears set to become a flashpoint for opponents during his Senate confirmation hearings next year. The history of contributions “only feeds the narrative that this is a rigged Cabinet out only for their personal bottom lines,” an aide to a Democratic senator, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press, told The Huffington Post on Thursday. “This is exactly the type of thing Democrats intend to hammer AG Pruitt on throughout the...

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