Inside The Tangled Climate Battle Between The Rockefellers And Exxon Mobil

NY Books:

Still, ExxonMobil (as it became in 1999) continued to spend extraordinary sums on lobbying, directly and through trade associations: $240 million since 1998.47 And in 2001, soon after President George W. Bush was inaugurated, the company’s chief lobbyist sent a memo to the White House making several requests. He asked the new administration to get rid of the scientist who chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body that is the world’s leading authority on the subject. He also asked that a number of other scientists and officials be fired from their jobs in the White House and the State Department, to be replaced by known climate skeptics.48 Exxon CEO Raymond and Vice President Dick Cheney were old friends, and Cheney had already taken practical control of the administration’s energy policy.49ExxonMobil got its wishes.50 As Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill said around the same time to the Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman, when she told him that Cheney had convinced Bush to repudiate his campaign promises about limiting carbon emissions, “We just gave away the environment.”51

  1. 6See
  2. 47See According to Steve Coll in Private Empire, “In the years after the Mobil merger, [CEOs] Raymond and Tillerson oversaw more spending on direct lobbying…than all but two other American companies, General Electric and Pacific Gas and Electric. ExxonMobil had evolved into the most profitable corporation headquartered in the United States—and one of the most politically active—in an era of corporate ascendancy” (pp. 623–624). 
  3. 48See Hasemyer and Cushman, “Exxon Sowed Doubt”
  4. 49See Coll, Private Empire, pp. 69–71, 89–91, 247–248, 320–321. 
  5. 50See Greenpeace, “Denial and Deception,” p. 14. 
  6. 51Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty (Simon and Schuster, 2004), p. 123. Quoted in Coll, Private Empire, p. 91. 


President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state comes as the oil giant is locked in a battle with environmental groups, more than a dozen state attorneys general and the Rockefeller Family Fund.

David Kaiser, the great-great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller, offered evidence in a series of articles in the New York Review of Books that Exxon Mobil’s scientists decided in the late-1980s to deny climate change to protect its interests. Exxon denies these charges, and says Rockefeller is funding a conspiracy.

Here & Now’s Robin Young talks with Kaiser about the allegations.


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