After their Destructive Secret was out, Exxon Mobil had yet to face Accountability until Now
It is no secret that Exxon Mobil hasn’t been the kindest to the planet over the years. The big oil company is one of the nation’s most prominent gasoline providers, and fueling automobiles is the world’s leading purpose for fossil fuel burning and the foremost cause of greenhouse gas emissions.
For years Exxon has gone unchecked for the environmental damage they have done as a company—after all, they were never really doing anything illegal. However, former Exxon Chief Executive Officer and U.S. Secretary of State under President Trump, Rex W. Tillerson is currently in hot water. The man is facing two legal battles, one in New York and one in Massachusetts, for allegedly lying to investors about the risks and impacts of global warming.
The Case Casts the Primary Offense towards their Investors, not the Environment
At last, Tillerson may be held accountable, but these are not environmental trials per-se. Instead, they are hitting the oil tycoon where it really hurts: his wallet. And the cases are not about compensating for ecological destruction, but something far more pertinent to those who navigate the corporate world: money.
In both New York and Massachusetts, Tillerson is accused of knowingly providing investors with false information about the climate crisis. Reportedly, Tillerson sold climate change as underwhelming, insignificant, and perhaps even good for business. Meanwhile, he depicted Exxon Mobil as a champion of environmentalism. While the company does do some philanthropy in that area, these statements clearly omit some essential details, namely that Exxon does far more harm than good for the natural world.
It may be a Fraud Case, but Tillerson’s Case could be a First Step towards an Environmental Win
Thus, the trial is really just a fraud case, a dry instance of one person deceiving another for financial benefit. These cases happen all the time and usually do not garner much attention. Given Tillerson’s prominence, though, and Exxon’s dodgy history in the battle against climate change, this particular fraud case has made some noise. While Tillerson argues that the press attention is unnecessary, pandering, and based on corporate stigma rather than facts, many environmentalists are happy to see a big oil company put on the stand and questioned about its impact on the planet.
At the end of the day, the trial is mainly about money, but the larger implications of Tillerson having to answer for Exxon’s climate denial involves something much more significant. Trojan-horsed as a fiscal wrongdoing, Tillerson’s current predicament stands as a testimony to environmental justice and shows that rich business executives are not immune to consequences.
If all this is confusing, that’s probably because major corporations usually try to mask these muddy legal situations with jargon and loopholes in order to maintain their quality public images. Right now, however, Tillerson may be caught in a trap, and Exxon’s lies, deceits, and blatant disregard for scientific accuracy are finally becoming apparent in black and white, even if what really brought him to the stand is printed in green.
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