There’s been no scarcity of fiery reactions to President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state, with some likening it to choosing a tobacco company executive to serve as surgeon general.

However throughout a media telebriefing on Monday, environmental teams mentioned one potential “silver lining”: If Tillerson accepts Trump’s Cupboard invitation, he should testify earlier than Congress ― which is able to seemingly query him not solely about his ties to Russia, but in addition his firm’s decades-long, well-documented climate change cover-up

Exxon Mobil is going through quite a few investigations, together with probes by the attorneys basic of New York and Massachusetts, into whether or not its executives lied to buyers and dedicated fraud by overlaying up the dangers of local weather change. The Securities and Alternate Fee has also begun investigating how Exxon Mobil values future tasks amid local weather change and declining oil costs.

“Will probably be a second for some severe on-the-record questioning … and to start to get out into the sunshine the form of issues that the attorneys basic in New York and Massachusetts appear to have been asking for and never getting from Exxon,” stated Invoice McKibben, co-founder of the environmental advocacy group 350.org, in the course of the name. 350.org and Greenpeace are amongst quite a lot of teams engaged in #ExxonKnew, a marketing campaign that seeks to carry Exxon accountable for its position in local weather change.

“On the very least, there shall be some severe stress delivered to bear,” McKibben stated.

Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

If he accepts Donald Trump’s nomination as secretary of state, Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson could also be pressured to disclose what his firm knew concerning the hyperlink between fossil fuels and local weather change.

In June, Exxon Mobil filed a lawsuit towards Massachusetts Lawyer Common Maura Healey in an effort to dam her workplace’s investigation.

Kathy Mulvey, the local weather accountability marketing campaign supervisor on the Union of Concerned Scientists, stated it’s “extremely ironic” that whereas Massachusetts’ high regulation enforcement official was being ordered to appear in Texas federal court for a deposition within the Exxon Mobil case, the oil firm’s CEO was interviewing for a job as the long run president’s chief international affairs adviser.

A day earlier than Trump formally introduced Tillerson as his decide, Mulvey stated that nominating the Exxon Mobil CEO as secretary of state “would sign an absence of concern by president-elect Trump for enforcement of legal guidelines towards fraud and deceptive shoppers and shareholders.” 

Exxon Mobil and its Republican allies in Washington, specifically Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, declare that the New York and Massachusetts probes are politically motivated and “a “blatant effort to silence free speech.”

The company says it has publicly acknowledged the chance of local weather change for greater than a decade. But business paperwork uncovered by information retailers and advocacy teams level to an extended historical past of denial and deception.

Final yr, InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times discovered that Exxon Mobil executives had been conscious of the local weather dangers related to carbon dioxide emissions and funded analysis to cowl up these dangers and block options.

A separate investigation by the Washington-based Center for International Environmental Law uncovered paperwork exhibiting that the oil business, together with Humble Oil (now Exxon Mobil Corp.), was conscious of the potential hyperlink between fossil fuels and carbon emissions no later than 1957. Massive Oil was “shaping science to shape public opinion” as early because the 1940s, the report discovered.

In the end, Tillerson’s affirmation as secretary of state wouldn’t make the Exxon Mobil probes disappear, in line with Annie Leonard, govt director of Greenpeace USA. 

“These investigations are undoubtedly larger than Tillerson,” she stated on Monday. “He’s an enormous a part of it, however the investigations are into Exxon and people should proceed whatever the secretary of state appointment.”

Though environmental teams are eyeing Tillerson’s upcoming affirmation listening to as a chance to seek out out what Exxon Mobil knew about local weather change and when, they haven’t minced phrases concerning the menace he poses ― together with Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s selection to go the Environmental Safety Company ― to the atmosphere and efforts to fight international warming.

There’s a “actual concern” Trump is “making a authorities of, by and for the oil and fuel business,” Mulvey stated.