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Former CEO Rex Tillerson Says Exxon Mobil Did Not Lie To Investors About Climate Costs

Former Secretary of State and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson
William Munoz/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Former Secretary of State and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson

From Texas Standard:

Texan, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom, where New York prosecutors are seeking to prove that Exxon Mobil lied to investors about the costs the company faced because of climate change. Tillerson is Exxon Mobil's former CEO.

Prosecutors say Exxon Mobil kept two sets of books – one that acknowledged the true costs associated with adhering to climate regulations, while the other indicated lower costs.

John Schwartz covers climate change for The New York Times. He says that while Tillerson was CEO, Exxon Mobil announced that it would account for the cost of climate change regulations, after pressure from activist investors. 

“What the attorney general of the State of New York is saying is – internally they used different figures, lower figures, and were low-balling the cost of climate regulation,” Schwartz says.

As scientists continue to develop global standards for accounting for climate costs, the responsibility falls on companies to report the impacts. Exxon and Tillerson say the case should be thrown out.

“What the company is saying is ‘you either don’t understand how we did our business or you’re lying about how we did our business because we were straight with people’,” Schwartz says. 

New York prosecutors say the issue is not which models the company used to determine its climate change-related costs, but whether the company shared a far more optimistic set of numbers with investors than it used for its own purposes.

Written by Libby Cohen.

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.

Rhonda is the newest member of the KUT News team, joining in late 2013 as producer for KUT's new daily news program, The Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.