Ed Markey announced Monday he will vote against the confirmation of Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson. In a statement, the Massachusetts Democrat said he could not look over concerns about the retired ExxonMobil CEO’s interests in Russia, as well as Tillerson’s lack of commitment to addressing climate change.
Markey, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had questioned Tillerson on those issues during his confirmation hearing January 11.
Markey said Monday that Tillerson’s career at ExxonMobil has caused “a complete lack of understanding of oil’s role in geopolitics.”
“Oil and other energy sources are at the heart of major conflicts around the world, but Mr. Tillerson refused to support American energy independence or even to recognize the strategic vulnerability that comes with importing oil from overseas,” said the junior senator.
Tillerson appears on track to be confirmed by the Senate, after previously skeptical Republicans, including Sens. Marco Rubio and John McCain, recently announced they would support his nomination. Rubio’s announcement Monday afternoon paved the way for Tillerson’s approval in a vote just hours later in the Foreign Relations Committee. He is expected to face a full Senate vote soon thereafter.
Read Markey’s full statement below:
“I thank Mr. Tillerson for his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for meeting personally with me to discuss his nomination, and for his willingness to enter public service. After careful review of Mr. Tillerson’s record and listening to his views during his confirmation hearing, I will not support his nomination.
“During his testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee, after my repeated questioning, Mr. Tillerson refused to recuse himself from all matters related to ExxonMobil for the entirety of his term. Mr. Tillerson has vocally opposed sanctions against Russia, which hamper ExxonMobil’s ability to drill there. As CEO of ExxonMobil, the company massively expanded its involvement in Russia, going from virtually no holdings in that country to holding the drilling rights to 63 million acres, an area the size of Wyoming. Only by recusing himself from all matters affecting ExxonMobil’s financial interests for the duration of his tenure would Mr. Tillerson be able to assure the American people that as Secretary of State he would put their interests — not ExxonMobil’s — first.
“I also have serious concerns about Mr. Tillerson’s commitment to continuing American leadership on climate change solutions around the world. Mr. Tillerson provide insufficient reassurance that the United States would meet its commitment to the Paris climate accord. He also refused to embrace the scientific view that climate change is now overwhelmingly driven by the burning of fossil fuels and failed to answer legitimate questions about Exxon’s support for climate denial groups during his tenure. America needs a Secretary of State who will lead the world to fully realize the clean energy future that will help us avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change while creating millions of American jobs.
“Finally, during his testimony, Mr. Tillerson displayed a complete lack of understanding of oil’s role in geopolitics — clearly a consequence of having worked solely at Exxon — that disqualifies him from being Secretary of State. Oil and other energy sources are at the heart of major conflicts around the world, but Mr. Tillerson refused to support American energy independence or even to recognize the strategic vulnerability that comes with importing oil from overseas.
“For four decades Mr. Tillerson has devoted himself to one interest and one interest only – ExxonMobil. But Exxon’s interests are not America’s interests, and I have serious concerns about Mr. Tillerson’s clear conflicts of interest from which he refused to recuse himself.”