President-Elect Donald Trump’s decision to nominate an oil and gas CEO to the Secretary of State position has been met with criticism from both the Democratic and Republican parties. Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon-Mobil, has nearly a decade of experience as chief of the huge multinational oil firm, a role which concerns many politicians and agencies pushing for environmental regulatory reform in the industry.
Environmental agencies have had an eye on Trump because of his talk of deregulation in the energy industry, among other things. They worry that the desires of oil and gas companies will trump the concerns of environmental groups. The appointment of Tillerson to the position of Secretary of State surely only exacerbated such worries.
Another issue critics bring to light is Tillerson’s involvement in Russia. Tillerson’s relationship with Putin, in particular, has stirred concern among certain individuals who are wary of Russian involvement in U.S. politics. The nature of the relationship is nearly entirely professional due to Exxon’s operations within Russia, but recent speculations regarding Russian involvement in the U.S. election, combined with the communist nation’s support of Assad’s vicious regime in Syria, understandably creates a sense of unease.
However, a company’s role in a country is to succeed and create the appropriate relationships to enable that success. As Pavel Molchanov, an oil analyst at investment firm Raymond James, told the Washington Post, “They’re there to invest in resources. Saying that he personally has some special feelings toward Russia just because Exxon has invested there is probably overstating the case.”
No one can know how Tillerson’s appointment will affect U.S. policy towards Russia until he actually has the opportunity to act in the capacity as Secretary of State. One can only hope that it will be in the best interest of the American people.
Rex Tillerson will be replaced by Darren Woods as CEO of Exxon Mobil.
Five Things to Know about Trump’s Secretary of State Pick Rex Tillerson