Tillerson in His Own Words: Views of Trump Pick for Top Diplomat

Tillerson in His Own Words: Views of Trump Pick for Top Diplomat

By Tina Davis

Exxon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to become Secretary of State. Here are some comments Tillerson, 64, has made in recent years on trade, sanctions and climate change.


Exxon Diplomacy


Anything that promotes global energy security is in U.S. national interest. Any steps we [Exxon] take to develop new resources, to promote trading relationships, to promote stability in countries, from a socioeconomic, geopolitical perspective, that is all in U.S. national interest. We do not represent the U.S. government as we travel around the world, we never pretend to do that and we never ask the U.S. government to do anything on our behalf. (interview on Charlie Rose, 2013)


Free Trade


By supporting free trade, opening up access, and allowing the free flow of goods and services, governments help industry find more innovative and efficient ways to bring energy to market.... History is clear and unequivocal: Free trade lifts the prospects of nations and improves the lives of people across borders, regions, and oceans. (prepared remarks for World Gas Conference speech, June 2015)


Trans-Pacific Partnership


Congress has been debating Trade Promotion Authority. If passed, it would give President Obama authority to move forward on two major, pending free-trade agreements: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would strengthen the economic relations among 11 nations in the Asia-Pacific region, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would increase trade between the U.S. and European Union. Completing such agreements would revitalize the global discussion of -- and renew the appreciation for -- the value of international trade and investment. (prepared remarks for World Gas Conference speech, June 2015)




We don’t find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensively, and that’s a very hard thing to do. So we always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming with sanctions, and what are their objectives, and whether sanctions are really effective or not. (2014 annual shareholder meeting)


Government’s Role


Governments around the world must put in place sound tax, legal, and regulatory frameworks. With sound policies enacted, investment, innovation, and cooperation can flourish. Government works best when it maintains a level playing field; opens the doors for competition; and refrains from picking winners and losers. (prepared remarks for 2015 speech at Oil & Money conference)


Climate Change


I view global warming and climate change as a serious risk and I’m in the risk management business.... It is clear that there is an impact [of carbon dioxide emissions], what’s not clear is our ability to measure with a great degree of accuracy or certainty exactly how large that impact will be. (interview with Charlie Rose, 2013)


Energy Independence


Energy independence and energy security are really two different things. And I think what the U.S. policy and what’s in the best interest of American consumers has been and should be -- is securing access to energy in a reliable, relatively affordable way. And if we’re able to do that, where it comes from should be of little consequence to us, if it’s reliable, if I have a system of policies that ensure I have reliable, affordable sources of energy. If you don’t like the people you’re buying it from, that’s a different issue. (speech at Council on Foreign Relations, June 2012)


Carbon Tax


We have long supported a carbon tax as the best policy of those being considered. Replacing the hodge-podge of current, largely ineffective regulations with a revenue-neutral carbon tax would ensure a uniform and predictable cost of carbon across the economy. It would allow market forces to drive solutions. It would maximize transparency, reduce administrative complexity, promote global participation and easily adjust to future developments in our understanding of climate science as well as the policy consequences of these actions. (prepared remarks for 2016 speech at Oil & Money conference)


Keystone XL


We need to approve critical infrastructure projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline. The United States and Canada both need this -- and other -- vital infrastructure projects. Keystone XL would do more than deliver oil from Alberta and North Dakota’s Bakken Shale to refiners on the Gulf Coast. It would improve U.S. competitiveness, increase North American energy security, and strengthen the relationship with one of our most important allies and trading partners. (prepared remarks for 2015 speech at IHS CERAWeek conference)



Boy Scouts


Scouting and my church were the most influential parts of my life growing up.

(Speech to Boy Scouts of America Sam Houston Area Council, 2014)



Career Path


I did not intend to go to work in the oil and gas industry.The year before graduating from the University of Texas, I had spent the summer working for Armco Steel Corp., one of the largest steel mills in the United States. I planned to work there after graduation because they offered the most money and a guaranteed promotion within six months. But a couple of recruiters from Exxon wouldn’t take no for an answer. (prepared remarks for 2015 speech accepting Petroleum Executive of the Year award)









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