WASHINGTON, U.S. – According to a new report by liberal think tank Center for American Progress, titled “How Exxon Won the 2016 Election,” the company stands to gain nearly $1 trillion from the Trump administration’s energy and environment policies.
The report comes just a day ahead of Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson’s grilling during a Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday on possible conflict of interest he faces as a result of the oil and gas giant’s extensive global operations.
Tillerson will particularly face some tough questions on climate change, the Russian hacking scandal, the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and the South China Sea dispute.
Notably, while Tillerson was a top executive at Exxon, the company did business through a European subsidiary with three countries under U.S. sanctions for being state sponsors of terrorism, filings from the Securities and Exchange Commission show – Iran, Sudan and Syria.
If his appointment is confirmed, Tillerson has said he will cut off ties with the largest of the world’s six Big Oil companies in exchange for a payout equal to the value of his shares.
He is, however, expected to face some obstacles on the path to his confirmation, especially in connection with his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
As secretary of state, he could push for sanctions on Russia to be lifted, allowing Exxon‘s Arctic agreement with Rosneft, believed to be worth approximately $500 billion, to proceed.
Another possible decision by the incoming Trump administration could greatly benefit Exxon – reversal of the Obama administration’s executive order requiring a presidential permit to construct cross-border pipelines.
The State Department is responsible for approving the fossil fuel infrastructure that could bring Canadian tar sands oil to the U.S. market.
Significantly, Exxon is one of the biggest investors in the Canadian tar sands.
Once president, Trump could also lift every restriction on extracting oil from public lands and offshore, which would once against assist the oil company.
Further, according to the think tank’s report, Trump’s Department of Justice is unlikely to investigate Exxon’s effort to “mislead” the public despite the dangers of climate change as early as the 1970s.
However, according to Ed Rodgers of the Washington Post, “It will be a shame if someone as distinguished, credentialed and obviously qualified as ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson is deemed to be unqualified for government service.”
“As CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has had to learn a lot about more than just oil and its extraction and handling. He has had to know a great deal about energy policy, regulatory policy, global finance, currency issues and labor policy, not to mention environmental policy,” Rodgers added.
But, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Monday said he is “deeply skeptical about Mr. Tillerson’s actions as CEO of Exxon.”
“Finding loopholes to make lucrative business deals with geo-political adversaries, while showing no clear regard for U.S. national interests, is not a resume builder for a prospective diplomat-in-chief,” he said.
“This is one of the many issues I look forward to hearing about during the upcoming confirmation hearings.”