The Catastrophic Oil Spill in Trump’s Cabinet

Isaiah J. Poole

The two latest Cabinet nominations announced by President-elect Donald Trump are the equivalent of a middle finger to the planet.

It would be almost impossible to come up with a more offensive combination of epithets shouted in the face of those of us who care about halting the advance of climate change and environmental degradation than the names of Rex Tillerson, the head of Exxon-Mobil, and Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas and current board member of Energy Transfer Partners, the firm behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Tillerson is nominated to be secretary of state, where he will be able to demolish international agreements on climate change and focus foreign policy on protecting multinational fossil fuel interests. Rick Perry is being chosen to lead the Department of Energy – the agency he famously vowed to abolish in a debate during his 2012 presidential primary bid – except that he couldn’t remember it as one of the three agencies he’d shut down as president.

Perry has a long history of shilling for Big Oil, and his serving on the board of the firm that is seeking to build the Dakota Access Pipeline, the project that Native and non-Native protesters successfully blocked a portion of in North Dakota earlier this month. That pipeline threatened water and sacred land belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux, and the Army Corps of Engineers, to the consternation of Energy Transfer Partners and no doubt Perry, decided under pressure not to grant an easement to that portion of the pipeline. Perry would be a voice in the Cabinet with a stake in arguing to reverse that decision.

People’s Action co-director George Goehl issued a statement that said that with these nominations Trump has “added Big Oil CEOs to his corporate-controlled toxic stew” of a Cabinet.

President-elect Trump promised to drain the swamp, but he has just proposed to fill it with two more corporate alligators who will exploit taxpayers to make more money for the billionaire class at the expense of the rest of us. Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry, don’t care about the interests of everyday people, including the people who voted for Donald Trump.

Trump’s nominees will spark waves of buyer’s remorse throughout the Midwest and Rust Belt. One month into his transition, an increasing number of his supporters see he is a fake economic populist – and a very real con man.

With the well-documented warming of the planet reaching dangerous levels, these are precisely the wrong people to place in these positions of public trust and global power. We will do everything in our power to make sure they are not confirmed to the new administration.

There are now so many lines in the sand to be drawn against this new administration that it seems overwhelming. But these nominations in particular stand out for their impact on our relationships with other countries, and the international corporations that seek to operate beyond the reach of government accountability, and on the planet that is our only home. Consider this: Notwithstanding the recent, temporary and geographically limited blasts of cold air through the United States caused by the La Niña weather phenomenon, 2016 will go down as globally the warmest year on record. We’ve made progress in limiting the growth of fossil fuel emissions, but the efforts that would maintain that progress, such as the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, have been under sustained attack by corporations like Exxon-Mobil and Energy Transfer Partners. If they win, the planet loses. It’s that simple.

We cannot afford to have Rex Tillerson and Rick Perry anywhere near the levers of government power.

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