Biden Administration Staffs Up With Climate Hawks: Department of Energy

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 21 Jan 2021 21:55:00 GMT

The Department of Energy has announced numerous senior hires, the vast majority of whom are climate hawks. As with the transition team, the picks range from lifelong environmental justice activists to corporate technologists. Most but not all have previous administration experience.

David G. Huizenga will serve as Acting Secretary of Energy, and Richard Glick is becoming chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.


  • Shalanda H. Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice. Shalanda H. Baker was mostly recently a professor of law, public policy, and urban affairs at Northeastern University. She was the co-founder and co-director of the Initiative for Energy Justice, which provides technical law and policy support to communities on the front lines of climate change. Baker served as an Air Force officer prior to her honorable discharge pursuant to the then existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and became a vocal advocate for repeal of the policy. She earned a B.S. in Political Science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a J.D. from Northeastern University, and L.L.M. from the University of Wisconsin.
  • Robert Cowin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement. Robert Cowin was most recently director of government affairs for the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Prior to that, Cowin worked for the National Environmental Trust, where he helped organize national campaigns focused on climate change, clean energy, and clean air. He holds a master’s degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a B.A. from Boston College.
  • Tanya Das, Chief of Staff, Office of Science. Tanya Das was most recently a Professional Staff Member on the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, where she worked on legislation on a range of issues in clean energy and manufacturing policy. She was an AAAS Congressional fellow in the Office of Senator Chris Coons. She earned her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
  • Christopher Davis, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy. Christopher Davis served all eight years of the Obama Administration — first in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs and then in several senior roles at the Department of Energy. Prior to that, he worked for the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform and the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. More recently, Davis worked with Co-Equal, a non-profit organization providing expertise and knowledge to Congress on oversight and legislation.
  • Ali Douraghy, Chief of Staff, Office of the Under Secretary for Science & Energy. Ali Douraghy was most recently Chief Strategy Officer for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Earth & Environmental Sciences Area. He led the New Voices program at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which brings diverse leader perspectives into science policy. He received his Ph.D. in biomedical physics from the UCLA School of Medicine.
  • Todd Kim, Deputy General Counsel for Litigation and Enforcement. Todd Kim most recently was a partner at Reed Smith LLP, and before that was the first Solicitor General for the District of Columbia, serving in that capacity more than 11 years. Kim was an appellate attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and a clerk on the D.C. Circuit. Kim graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an executive editor of the Harvard Law Review, and received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude in biology from Harvard College.
  • Jennifer Jean Kropke, Director of Energy Jobs. Jennifer Jean Kropke served as the first Director of Workforce and Environmental Engagement for IBEW Local Union 11 and the National Electrical Contractors’ Association-Los Angeles’ Labor Management Cooperation Committee. She focused on creating clean energy, port electrification, and zero emission transportation opportunities for union members. She is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law.
  • Andrew Light, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs. Andrew Light has worked on international climate and energy policy in and outside of government for the last 15 years. From 2013 to 2016, he served as Senior Adviser and India Counselor to the U.S. Special Envoy on Climate Change, as well as a climate adviser in the Secretary of State’s Office of Policy Planning. Light was an international climate and energy policy volunteer for the Biden campaign and was one of the chief architects of Governor Jay Inslee’s plan for global climate mobilization. He is an environmental philosopher and is married to Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin. He completed his undergraduate work at Mercer University and doctoral work at the University of California, Riverside with a three-year post-doctoral fellowship in environmental risk assessment at the University of Alberta.
  • David A. Mayorga, Director of Public Affairs. David A. Mayorga most recently served as Director of Communications for the Attorney General for the District of Columbia Karl A. Racine. Previously he was Senior Spokesperson for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and led communications for DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, with the SunShot Initiative. He earned a B.A. from the University of Florida and began his professional career at the U.S. House Committee on Science.
  • Shara Mohtadi, Chief of Staff, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Shara Mohtadi has focused her career advising policymakers and international organizations on mitigating climate change and advancing clean energy policies. She most recently led the America’s Pledge initiative and managed grants focused on the coal to clean energy transition in Asia and Australia at Bloomberg Philanthropies. Previously, Shara served as a senior advisor on climate and energy policy for New York State government. During the Obama Administration, Mohtadi served as an advisor for the energy and environment portfolio at the White House, in the Office of Management and Budget. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University.
  • Tarak Shah, Chief of Staff. Tarak Shah is an energy policy expert who has spent the last decade working on combating climate change. At the Biden-Harris Transition, Shah was the Personnel lead for the Climate and Science team. From 2014-2017, he served as Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary for Science and Energy at DOE. Shah has also worked on political campaigns, including President Obama’s Senate and presidential campaigns. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois and his M.B.A from Cornell University.
  • Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. Kelly Speakes-Backman most recently served as the first CEO of the Energy Storage Association, the national trade organization for the energy storage industry. Speakes-Backman has spent more than 20 years working in energy and environmental issues in the public, NGO and private sectors. In 2019, she was honored by The Cleanie Awards as Woman of the Year.
  • Narayan Subramanian, Legal Advisor, Office of General Counsel. Narayan Subramanian was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Law, Energy, & the Environment at Berkeley Law leading a project tracking regulatory rollbacks, and served as a Fellow at the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy at Johns Hopkins University and Data for Progress. He was lead coordinator of the Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign’s climate and energy policy advisory group. Subramanian holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School, an M.P.A. from the School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University, and a B.S. in Earth & Environmental Engineering from Columbia University.
  • Shuchi Talati, Chief of Staff, Office of Fossil Energy. Dr. Shuchi Talati was most recently a Senior Policy Advisor at Carbon180 where she focused on policies to build sustainable and equitable technological carbon removal at scale. She also served as a policy volunteer on the Biden-Harris campaign. She was a UCS Fellow on solar geoengineering research governance and public engagement with the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Dr. Talati earned a B.S. from Northwestern University, an M.A. from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University. Her doctoral research focused on the climate-energy-water nexus looking specifically at the impacts of domestic climate regulations and carbon capture and storage technology.
  • Jennifer Wilcox, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. Jennifer Wilcox is a direct carbon air capture expert. She was most recently the Presidential Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Energy Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Senior Fellow at the World Resources Institute. Wilcox’s work examines the nexus of energy and the environment, developing strategies to minimize negative climate impacts associated with society’s dependence on fossil fuels. Wilcox holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and M.A. in Chemistry from the University of Arizona and B.A. in Mathematics from Wellesley College.
  • Avi Zevin, Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy. Avi Zevin is an attorney with experience advancing policies that enable the provision of carbon-free, reliable, and cost-effective electricity. Until joining the administration, he was energy policy counsel for Google. He was a senior attorney and Affiliated Scholar at the Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law and an attorney at Van Ness Feldman LLP. He was a policy advisor for the corporate-funded Third Way think tank from 2008 to 2009. Zevin holds a J.D., magna cum laude, from New York University School of Law, an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a B.A., with high honors, from the University of California, Berkeley.

Additional hires without significant reputation as climate policy experts or advocates include:

  • Vanessa Z. Chan, Director, Office of Technology Transitions (Chief Commercialization Officer). Vanessa Z. Chan comes to the Biden-Harris Administration from the University of Pennsylvania where she was the Brassington Professor of Practice and the Undergraduate Chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Department. She has spent the past 20 years helping large companies commercialize their technologies and revamping the academic curriculum of engineering students to make a greater social impact. Dr. Chan is a former longtime McKinsey & Company partner. She is a Venture Board Director for Vanguard and United Technology Corporation and a board member at multiple start-ups. Dr. Chan was the first woman and the first East Asian elected partner in McKinsey’s North American Chemicals practice. She is married to Mark van der Helm, the head of Energy, Waste and Facilities Maintenance at Walmart. Chan earned her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.S. in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Caroline Grey, White House Liaison. Caroline Grey worked for Biden for President as Expansion States Director, managing distributed engagement in 33 states. Previously, she worked on the presidential campaign of Senator Elizabeth Warren. Grey started her career as an organizer for then-Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and worked on the 2012 Obama re-election campaign. She co-founded Civis Analytics, a data science firm.
  • Ali Nouri, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs. Ali Nouri is a molecular biologist and most recently was the President of the Federation of American Scientists, which addresses global health and security risks. He has been working aggressively on fighting COVID-19 misinformation. Prior to that, he served as a U.S. Senate staffer for a decade for Sens. Jim Webb and Al Franken and served as an advisor in the office of then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Nouri obtained a B.A. in biology from Reed College and received his Ph.D. from Princeton University.

In 1957, Climate Scientist Warned Congress That Fossil-Fueled Global Warming Could Turn California Into A Desert

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 10 Sep 2020 17:18:00 GMT

Dr. Roger Revelle (seated, far right) testifies before Congress, May 1, 1957. (Roger Revelle papers, UCSD)

Unprecedented heat and wildfires driven by fossil-fueled global warming are ravaging the forests of California and the Pacific Northwest – in line with scientific predictions to the U.S. Congress from the 1950s.

Over sixty-three years ago, physical oceanographer Roger Revelle testified to Congress that fossil-fueled climate change could turn southern California and most of Texas into “real deserts.”

On May 1, 1957, Dr. Revelle testified at the hearing on appropriations for the International Geophysical Year, Independent Offices Subcommittee, House Committee on Appropriations:

The last time that I was here I talked about the responsibility of climatic changes due to the changing carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere and you will remember that I mentioned the fact that during the last 100 years there apparently has been a slight increase in the carbon dioxide because of the burning of coal and oil and natural gas.

If we look at the probable amounts of these substances that will be burned in the future, it is fairly easy to predict that the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere could easily increase by about 20 percent. This might, in fact, make a considerable change in the climate. It would mean that the lines of equal temperature on the earth would move north and the lines of equal rainfall would move north and that southern California and a good part of Texas, instead of being just barely livable as they are now, would become real deserts.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in 1957 were 315 parts per million. It reached 378 ppm, Revelle’s cautioned 20 percent increase, in 2004. As of September 2020, the planet is now at 410 ppm, a 30 percent increase.

Revelle’s testimony in the previous year in support of federal funding to monitor atmospheric and oceanic carbon dioxide levels was the first time that manmade global warming was discussed in the Congressional record.

“We are making perhaps the greatest geophysical experiment in history,” he said on March 8, 1956, “an experiment which could not be made in the past because we didn’t have an industrial civilization and which will be impossible to make in the future because all the fossil fuels will be gone.”

Revelle also noted that regional shifts in climate in the past led to “the rise and fall and complete decay of many civilizations.”

In response to questions from Rep. Sydney Yates (D-Ill.) and Rep. Albert Thomas (D-Texas), Dr. Revelle elucidated further:

People talk about making fresh water out of sea water. God does that for them far better than any man ever could. He evaporates three feet of water on every square foot of the ocean every year. The problem is that the distribution system is bad. The water coming from the ocean moves over the land but mostly over the northern and southern parts of the land, and this circulation pattern, or transport of water vapor from the sea to the land and the precipitation on the land, apparently shifts with the temperature; at least we think it does, and there seems to be a broad belt called the horse latitudes between the equatorial regions and the belt of cyclonic storms where the precipitation is minimal.

If you increase the temperature of the earth, the north latitude belt, which covers most of the western part of the United States and the Southwest, would move to the north.

“Only God knows whether what I am saying is true or not,” Revelle concluded. But his understanding of the science of fossil-fueled global warming has now been proven correct. The climate of southern California has undergone a phase shift to a persistently hotter, drier regime — a permanent shift if action is not taken to end the burning of fossil fuels and reduce the concentration of industrial greenhouse pollution in the atmosphere.

Top Hurricane Scientist: ‘Katrina Would Not Have Been As Intense In 1980′

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Aug 2020 13:35:00 GMT

Originally published September 5, 2008 on the ThinkProgress Wonk Room.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology climatologist Kerry Emanuel says that he would be “surprised” if global warming “were not a big factor” in intensifying Hurricane Katrina’s destructive power. Katrina, the costliest and third deadliest hurricane in United States history, intensified to Category Five strength, with peak sustained winds over 170 mph, over extremely warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico before its record storm surge devastated the Gulf Coast.

Emanuel compared the meteorological conditions in which Hurricane Katrina developed in 2005 to the existing conditions twenty-five years earlier in 1980. Using his model of tropical storm potential intensity, which uses at determining factors such as sea and air temperature and wind shear, he found that Katrina would have been significantly weaker twenty-five years earlier. When asked how to characterize his findings, Emanuel replied:

I think it is correct to say that Katrina would not have been as intense in 1980. What part of that to attribute to global warming is tricky, but I would be surprised if it were not a big factor.

Katrina potential intensity chart
NCEP/NCAR Re-analysis potential intensity for 1980 and 2005 (Emanuel, 2008)

Dr. Emanuel, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Influential People of 2006, is the author of dozens of influential papers on tropical meteorology and climatology, including the 2005 Nature paper, “Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years.” Dr. Emanuel has authored the popular science books Divine Wind: The History and Science of Hurricanes and What We Know About Climate Change, and is profiled in ScienceProgress editor Chris Mooney’s book, Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming.

Examining the Oil Industry’s Efforts to Suppress the Truth about Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 23 Oct 2019 14:00:00 GMT

The Subcommittee will examine how the oil industry’s climate denial campaign has negatively and disproportionately affected people of color and vulnerable populations in our country and around the world, as well as drowned out the voices of everyday Americans.


Decades of climate denialism by the oil industry forestalled meaningful government action to avert the current crisis. As early as the 1960s, oil giants like Exxon knew that climate change was real and that the burning of fossil fuels was a major contributor to the problem.

The lack of government action on climate change has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities who are often harmed “first and worst” by climate change.

Climate denial not only led to these devasting effects on vulnerable populations; it also represents a distortion of our democracy, as powerful, moneyed interests control the conversation and drown out the voices of average Americans who are paying the price of climate change.

Despite efforts to rehabilitate their image by pledging to stop supporting think tanks and lobbyists who promote climate denialism, Exxon has continued to fund climate deniers. Exxon still continues to fund organizations “steeped in climate denial and delay” to this day, clear evidence that it has not changed since its initial pivot from climate science to denial.

Despite the already devasting effects of climate change, Exxon shows no signs of slowing down on its production of fossil fuels. To the contrary, Exxon and other oil companies continue to explore for more oil, meaning they are not taking the problem of climate change or the development of alternative fuels seriously.

  • Dr. Mustafa Ali, Vice President, Environmental Justice Climate and Community Revitalization, National Wildlife Federation
  • Dr. Ed Garvey, Former Exxon Scientist
  • Dr. Martin Hoffert, Former Exxon Consultant, Professor Emeritus, Physics, New York University
  • Dr. Naomi Oreskes, Professor, History of Science, Affiliated Professor, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University
  • Sharon Eubanks, Esquire, Of Counsel, Henderson Law Firm, PLLC

WOW 101: The State of Wildlife

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 12 Mar 2019 20:42:00 GMT

Chair Jared Huffman opening statement:

Welcome to the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife subcommittee 101 hearing on the state of wildlife. So far, we’ve talked about the state of our water supplies, the state of our oceans, and now it’s time to talk about wildlife.

Our topic today is especially fitting because it is National Wildlife Week. This week celebrates the anniversaries of several important events in the preservation of our nation’s wildlife, including the establishment of the first National Wildlife Refuge, Pelican Island, in 1903; the Duck Stamp Act of 1934; and the founding of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1940. For over a century, Americans have expected that their representatives work together to protect wildlife. And that’s because our experiences with nature and wildlife are fundamental to our cultures, our families, and our way of life. Maybe you go hunting or fishing with your family, maybe your kids watch the birdfeeder in the backyard, or maybe you’ve visited our national parks and wildlife refuges and seen all the wild beauty that our country has to offer. I, for one, get out as much as possible in my district to fish. There are few things better than a relaxing day spent fishing at a quiet spot on the North Coast of California.

I think it’s safe to say that we all want to protect native wildlife, both for the sake of wildlife itself and for us and future generations to enjoy. In fact, 4 out of 5 Americans support the Endangered Species Act and protecting species. We also share the goal of helping endangered wildlife around the globe, whether it is elephants, rhinos, tigers, polar bears, whales, or pandas.

Although we come from different states, with different landscapes and regional issues, the goal of today’s hearing is to get a clear and fact-based overview of the state of wildlife. Unfortunately, what I know so far, and what our expert witnesses will likely tell you, is that the state of many species in this country and across the globe is dire. In the history of the planet, there have been 5 major extinctions of life on Earth, including the time a meteor wiped out the dinosaurs. While you may not see a meteor falling from outer space or volcanoes filling the skies with ash right now, scientists have determined that we are in the middle of a sixth mass extinction.

And the truth is, it’s because of us. Human activity has destroyed all kinds of habitat, polluted our water and air, and is changing the climate in ways that many species of wildlife are struggling to keep up with. If we don’t do something about climate change, scientists predict that 1 in 6 species could face extinction.

However, it’s completely in our ability to solve these problems. There are several legislative proposals to protect wildlife that have been put forward by members of this Congress. We plan to hold legislative hearings soon to get many of these bills moving. We will also be conducting oversight of this administration, which we’ve seen place industry interests above those of the American people over and over again, including protecting wildlife and outdoor recreation.

Just last week, we held a hearing on the many threats facing one of the most endangered whales alive today, the North Atlantic right whale. Catering to oil and gas companies, the Trump administration has decided to increase the stressors facing this already imperiled species, even in the face of opposition from local communities and states.

The Endangered Species Act is another top target for the Trump administration. The administration is currently finalizing rules that would create loopholes in the law, putting more species at risk of extinction and giving more leeway to industry. We expect the administration to release the final rules any day now. The Trump administration is also undermining protections for wildlife in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the last remaining pristine habitats on Earth, by opening it up to oil and gas drilling. Over 700 species of plants and animals call the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge home, including polar bears, wolves, and the Porcupine caribou herd, which the Gwich’in people have relied on for time immemorial. I introduced the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act to restore protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and urge my colleagues to join over one hundred other Members of Congress in supporting the bill.

The Trump administration announced last year that “incidental take” under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act would no longer be interpreted as prohibiting the incidental killing of birds. And guess who benefits? You guessed it: oil and gas companies. Finally, the quality of key habitats that promote recreation, hunting, and fishing, as well as access to these habitats, are being eroded by the administration’s energy-dominance policy. As you can see, there is a clear pattern here. And unfortunately, the list goes far beyond these few instances I’ve described today. So this Congress, this committee has a lot of work to do – making sure we hold this administration accountable for decisions that further threaten wildlife and putting new, innovative ideas forward to address the sixth mass extinction. We’re going to hear from a great panel of wildlife experts today. Thank you all for being here. I now invite the Ranking Member for his remarks, and then we will welcome and introduce our witnesses.

Majority witnesses
  • Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and Chief, Executive Officer, Defenders of Wildlife
  • Dan Ashe, President and Chief Executive, Officer, Association of Zoos & Aquariums
  • Christy Plumer, Chief Conservation Officer, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Minority witnesses
  • Valerie Covey, Commissioner, Precinct Three, Williamson County Commissioner’s Court, Georgetown, TX
  • Rodger D. Huffman, President, Union County, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association

The Denial Playbook: How Industries Manipulate Science and Policy from Climate Change to Public Health

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 26 Feb 2019 19:00:00 GMT

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee planned to hold a Feb. 26 hearing titled The Denial Playbook: How Industries Manipulate Science and Policy from Climate Change to Public Health. Witnesses at the hearing – part of the Natural Resources Committee’s historic month-long series of hearings on climate change – will speak to the tactics used by various industries to mislead the public about health and environmental risks and explain how to recognize the signs of a denialist misinformation campaign in any field.

However, as the hearing began with two Democrats and four Republicans present, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) was able to call the hearing out of order. The testimony continued as a forum.

Majority Witnesses

  • Chris Borland, Retired NFL player. Chris Borland is a former linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. He retired early from a successful career because of concerns about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurological condition caused by repeated blows to the head and body experienced by professional, college, and early age football players.
  • Mr. Ryan Hampton, Founder, Voices Project. Ryan Hampton is a national addiction recovery advocate and person in sustained recovery from 10 years of active opioid use. He has worked with multiple non-profits and community organizing campaigns—including the nation’s top addiction recovery advocacy organizations.
  • Ms. Alexandra Precup. Ms. Precup is a native of Puerto Rico who was displaced by Hurricane Maria. She will speak to the effects of climate change on her and her family.
  • Dr. David Michaels, Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, George Washington University. Dr. Michaels is the former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. He is among the nation’s top experts in disinformation campaigns, including climate denial, and will speak to the ways in which denial campaigns across industries share similar recognizable traits.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and Patrick Leahy Oppose Trump USDA Chief Scientist Nominee Sam Clovis

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 01 Nov 2017 15:43:00 GMT

Two more members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, and Senator Heidi Heitkamp, Democrat of North Dakota, are publicly opposing the confirmation of Sam Clovis, Trump’s nominee to be USDA chief scientist. Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow of Michigan announced her opposition in September.

Clovis, long under criticism for his lack of scientific credentials, is now embroiled in the Mueller investigation for his role as a top Donald Trump presidential campaign official. Clovis directed his subordinate on the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, to “make the trip” to Moscow to collude with Russian agents.

“If his anti-science record were not enough cause for concern,” Leahy’s statement reads, “the latest reporting suggesting that Mr. Clovis may have facilitated Russian collusion in our elections raises these concerns to an alarming level. Even for this administration, that should be disqualifying.”

“Sam Clovis is uniquely unqualified to serve as USDA’s top scientist, and his confirmation would be harmful to North Dakota’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities,” Heitkamp said in a statement to Politco. “North Dakota’s farmers and ranchers need and deserve someone in this role who will work in their best interest – and that is not Sam Clovis. I’ll oppose his nomination.”

With Leahy and Heitkamp’s announcements, there are ten senators, including three on the Agriculture Committee, to publicly oppose the nominee, who rejected the science of climate change, promoted the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, and argued that homosexuality is a choice.

A growing coalition of environmental, science, and sustainable farming organizations oppose Clovis.

Senators in public opposition to Sam Clovis:
  • Kamala Harris (D-CA)
  • Brian Schatz (D-HI)
  • Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)*
  • Tom Udall (D-NM)
  • Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)*
  • Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)*

    Members of the agriculture committee are marked with an asterisk.

  • Linda McMahon, Trump's SBA Pick, Rejects Climate Science

    Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 09 Feb 2017 17:05:00 GMT

    World Wrestling Entertainment executive and performer Linda McMahon, Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Small Business Administration, is a global warming denier.

    When McMahon unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in Connecticut in 2010, she explained her rejection of the scientific understanding of climate change to the Connecticut Mirror:
    McMahon, the Republican nominee and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, says the “science is mixed” on what has caused global warming, although she does not dispute that the climate is indeed changing.

    “I just don’t think we have the answers as to why it changes,” she said. “I’m not a scientist, so I couldn’t pretend to understand all the reasons. But the bottom line is we really don’t know.”

    McMahon went on to describe her opposition to climate legislation and support for unrestricted oil and gas drilling. She lost to Democrat Richard Blumenthal, who accurately stated that “the science is irrefutable, and we would be irresponsible to ignore it.”

    In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation – what the word “theory” means in scientific jargon, despite Rep. Perry’s confusion – for the rapid warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution. Because of the hundreds of billions of tons of industrial carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere, the global climate is continuing to warm, with every decade since the 1970s warmer than the last, and the impacts of global warming are accelerating faster than scientists projected.

    Rex Tillerson Continues to Reject Climate Science

    Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 24 Jan 2017 20:01:00 GMT

    In written testimony, Trump’s Secretary of State candidate, former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, continued to reject the scientific consensus of manmade global warming. Responding to a question from Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tillerson made the specious claim that rising industrial greenhouse gases — produced in large part by his own corporation — are not the primary driver of global warming.

    CARDIN: Do you accept the consensus among scientists that the combustion of fossil fuels is the leading cause for increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which is the key factor in the rising global temperatures?

    TILLERSON: I agree with the consensus view that the combustion of fossil fuels is a leading cause for increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I understand these gases to be a factor in rising temperatures, but I do not believe the scientific consensus supports their characterization as the “key” factor.
    In fact, the scientific consensus is that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are responsible for all of the observed global warming, and likely even more — without human activity, global temperatures may have declined slightly. As the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report stated:
    Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have increased since the pre-industrial era, driven largely by economic and population growth, and are now higher than ever. This has led to atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide that are unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. Their effects, together with those of other anthropogenic drivers, have been detected throughout the climate system and are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

    Tillerson’s failure to understand climate science was convenient for ExxonMobil’s profits, but is catastrophically dangerous for ability of the planet to support organized society.

    Transcript of Rex Tillerson Confirmation Hearing Part I

    Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 12 Jan 2017 21:34:00 GMT

    CORKER: The Foreign Relations Committee will come to order.

    We appreciate everybody being here as the Senate carries out one of its most important responsibility, which is to advice — to give advice and consent to nominees that are put forth by a president. We thank all of you for being here. Obviously, there’s a lot of interest in this hearing. We would ask those who, like us, have the privilege of being in this room, we would ask you to respect democracy, respect the right for us to have a hearing, to control yourselves in an appropriate manner, and I’m sure that is gonna be the case. This is the best of America here.

    Serving with outstanding members on this committee. As a matter of fact, because of so much happening in the world today and because of the role that this committee has played over the last several years, demand on this committee has grown and — and with that, I want to welcome new members who I know will play a big role in the future of our country.

    Mr. Todd Young, newly elected to the Senate, we welcome you here. This is our first public appearance. We thank you for your interest in our country’s future and for being here. Mr. Rob Portman, who also joined the committee. I think he serves on more committees here than anybody in the Senate, but we thank you for your responsible thinking and leadership. I want to thank Jeff Merkley, who I know cares very, very deeply about these issues, for joining this committee, for your principled efforts in so many regards, and I know they will continue here.

    And Cory Booker, new star of the Senate, who I know will play a very vigorous role here and we thank you so much for being here today.

    Just to give you a little bit of a sense of what’s gonna happen today, we have four very distinguished people, two of whom are colleagues, who will introduce the nominee and then we will move to opening statements. I will give an opening statement, our distinguished ranking member will give an opening statement and then our nominee, Mr. Rex Tillerson, will give his.

    Each person here will have 10 minutes to ask questions, a little bit more than the norm. We’ve coordinated the schedule with the ranking member, but also with Senator Schumer and others, just to ensure that the American people and certainly all of us have the opportunity to ask the kind of questions that people would like to ask.

    I would say to members, I know some of us have an art form of being able to ask about 90 questions in time ending about five seconds before the respondent responds. The 10 minutes includes the response and I’m gonna be — in order to be — in order to be respectful of everybody’s time, which is a little bit unusual here, we’re gonna be — we’re gonna hold to that in a very rigid way.

    Our plan is that we will go until about one o’clock today if everybody uses their time. We will take a break out of showing mercy to our nominee for about 45 minutes and to many of us up here. And then we’ll come back and resume until such a time as we have the vote-a-rama that — which I think begins around six o’clock this evening.

    Again, in order to make sure that all questions are answered, the ranking member and I have agreed that should there be another day necessary, we’ll begin a morning — in the morning at 10 o’clock. Hopefully, with all that will happen today, that will be unnecessary, but our nominee is very aware that that may well occur.

    I think all of you know that our business meeting, again, in order to show respect for all of who are here, is moved until tonight when we have the vote-a-rama, at which time will take up the accession — Montenegro accession to NATO and will take up the — the resolution relative to Israel. We’ll do that off the floor this evening.

    So, with that…

    CARDIN: Mr. Chairman, can I just thank you for the accommodations for this hearing? I — I know you started it at nine o’clock as an accommodation so that we could all have a little bit more time in the morning for asking questions. And I thank you very much for that accommodating a 10-minute round.

    The two of — the chairman and I have worked closely together to make sure that this hearing was the type of hearing that we’d be proud of in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And I want to personally thank you for that and welcome our four new members to our committee.

    And with that, I’ll withhold until (inaudible).

    CORKER: Thank you.

    This — this committee has been a — certainly a beacon of bipartisanship, as was mentioned, sometimes an island of bipartisanship. But I think all of us understand the importance of us being united, especially when we leave the shore’s edge. And I know that we will continue to conduct the hearing today in that manner.

    With that, we have four very distinguished individuals who would like to introduce the nominee. We thank each of them for being here. I know that they plan to spend about two and a half minutes each. To do so, we welcome you here.

    We have the distinguished Senator Cornyn from Texas, the distinguished Senator Cruz from Texas, the distinguished Sam Nunn from Georgia, who we miss but thank him for his service, and the distinguished Secretary Gates who has served eight presidents. I’m actually surprised he’s not serving a ninth. But we thank you for being here.

    Each of you, if you would please give your comments and then we will move to — to opening statements. Thank you for being here.

    Senator Cornyn?

    CORNYN: Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Cardin, members of the — of the committee, I’m proud to be here today with my colleague Senator Cruz to introduce a fellow Texan, Rex Tillerson, as the nominee to be the next secretary of State.

    Without a doubt, Rex Tillerson is an inspired choice by President-elect Trump for this critical position. The depth and breadth of his experience as an accomplished and successful business leader and skilled negotiator give him a solid understanding of our current geopolitical and economic challenges, making him uniquely qualified to serve in this important office.

    After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in engineering, Mr. Tillerson joined the Exxon Corporation, eventually moving up the ranks and into overseas assignments in Asia, the Middle East and Europe. In 2006, he assumed command of Exxon Mobile, a tenure during which he displayed exceptional acumen, helping Exxon weather complex geopolitical obstacles to make the company into one of the world’s most profitable corporations.

    CORNYN: As a lifelong Texan, Rex has been recognized for something you don’t ordinarily associate with being a powerful business leader and head of one of the largest corporations in the world. He’s been recognized for his humility and his altruism. One of my constituents recently wrote a piece in the Dallas Morning News talking about serving on a jury with Mr. Tillerson recently.

    She noted that on that jury, his natural leadership ability and charisma, helped them deliver justice in a delicate and difficult case of sexual assault. Following the trial, Mr. Tillerson then donated to the local non-profit that helps support and counsel the victim after the trial.

    Mr. Tillerson understands how to separate friendships and business. He knows who he works for. My first encounter with Rex is when I was attorney general. I don’t know if he remembers this, but we were on opposite sides of a lawsuit.

    I was representing in my capacity as attorney general to the state of Texas and we had the temerity to sue ExxonMobil. And lets say, our first encounter was a little awkward, to say the least. But over the years, I’ve grown to admire and respect Rex and he didn’t let our differences get in the way of what we could agree on.

    Since then, I’ve seen him demonstrate an uncanny ability that will serve him and our country well as its chief diplomat. And that is an ability to deftly handle business matters while maintaining and building relationships, a further testament to his integrity and strength of character.

    Once he’s confirmed, I’m confident that he will be instrumental in shaping American foreign policy as we face a broad array of diplomatic challenges that will define the security and success of our nation for generations.

    So thank you Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, members of the committee, for letting me introduce Rex Tillerson.

    CORKER: (OFF-MIKE) for being maybe the first prompt senator I’ve witnessed here. Thank you so much.

    CORNYN: Trying to set the standard, sir.

    CORKER: Thank you, sir.

    CRUZ: Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, members of the committee, good morning. It is a privilege to join you this morning and have the opportunity to help introduce my fellow Texan and the secretary of State Designee, Rex Tillerson.

    As many of you know, Rex is a Texan, born and raised in Wichita Falls and he’s a proud Texas Longhorn, which John and I might think is plenty enough alone to qualify him for secretary of State. But I recognize you all might set a higher bar than that.

    The good news is, that is only the beginning of a long substantive list of qualifications, achievements and international relationships that Rex brings to the table. A list that I believe has prepared him to be a strong candidate to lead our State Department, as we face the monumental task of restoring America’s influence across the world.

    As all of us know, this is no easy task. We live in a dangerous year and a dangerous world. And after the last eight years, we face a circumstance where many of our friends no longer trust us and many of our enemies no longer fear us.

    Rex Tillerson is a serious man, who understands the value of perseverance and knows what it takes to accomplish difficult tasks. From an early age, he worked to climb the ranks in Boy Scouts to become an Eagle Scout and started as a production engineer at Exxon in 1975, eventually, climbing his way to the top as CEO of the Fortune 10 Company.

    At Exxon, he led one of the world’s most respected companies with over 75,000 employees and over $250 billion in revenue. Exxon, a proud Texas Company, does business in 52 countries. And Rex has traveled the globe, negotiating business deals with world leaders, effectively advocating for the interests of his company, shareholders and employees.

    The numerous achievements that Rex has earned, they don’t come without hard work, dedication and passion for one’s mission. This is the work ethic and spirit that America needs in its secretary of State.

    That is the attitude that gives me confidence in the opportunity that Rex has to chart a different, better and stronger course for our national security and diplomacy. We need a secretary of State who understands that America is exceptional, who will establish policies upon that foundation of exceptionalism and who will put America’s interests first.

    Repeatedly, the current administration has used the United Nations to try to circumvent the will of Congress and the American people. I look forward to a president and secretary of State, who will instead vigorously defend U.S. sovereignty.

    I believe that Rex has an incredible opportunity to defend the foreign policy principles upon which President-elect Trump campaigned, to strengthen our friendship and alliances and to defeat our enemies. And I look forward to all of us working with him in the years ahead as we restore American leadership across the globe. Thank you.

    CORKER: Thank you, also for those concise comments, much appreciated, thank you both for being here. And should you need to leave to go to other hearings, please feel free to do so.

    Senator Nunn?


    CORKER: You need to turn your mic on, sir. You’ve gotta practice, leaving here for a few years.

    NUNN: Well, I thank you Gentleman Corker and Senator Cardin and my friend for a long time, Johnny Isakson — Senator Isakson, members of the committee. I wish I had thought of this clock a long time ago, it would’ve saved an awful lot of agony for our committee.

    So I’m gonna try to cut my statement as short as possible. And I ask the whole statement be put into the record.

    CORKER: Without objection, thank you.

    NUNN: Mr. Chairman, Rex Tillerson’s resume is well-known, so let me just tackle two points that I know have been raised with the committee, as well as with the Senate.

    First, Rex Tillerson’s knowledge of and experience in Russia. And second, how his work in the private sector prepares him to be our top diplomat and run one of the most important departments in our government.

    With respect to Russia, certain facts are clear. Russia’s recent, flagrant actions indicate that its national interest sharply differ from America’s national interest in important places, most acutely in Ukraine, in Europe and in Syria.

    Russia’s values differ from America’s values, in particularly in our form of government, our commitment to personal freedom, human rights and the rule of law. These fundamental differences are very important and the fact that our interests and values differ, should always inform our policy toward Russia.

    But Mr. Chairman, the important facts don’t end here. It is also a fact, that Russia today deploys hundreds of nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles that could be fired and hit their targets, around the globe in less time that it will take to have opening statements at the hearing today.

    It is also a fact that for both the United States and Russia, the risk of an accidental, unauthorized or mistaken launch of a nuclear ballistic missile is unnecessarily high, particularly in our world of increasing cyber vulnerability. It is also a fact that the United States and Russia, like it or not, are bound together in areas of unavoidable common interests, including the prevention of nuclear and biological terrorism, the prevention of nuclear proliferation, false warnings of nuclear attacks and the hacking of command and control systems or nuclear facilities.

    These facts lead me to an inescapable conclusion. It is dangerous for the United States and Russia and for the world to have virtually no dialogue on reducing nuclear risks and very little military to military communication. If this continues and we are guided by zero sum logic on both sides, we and Russia may be rewarded at some point with catastrophe.

    This is my judgment, even when we have stark disputes, including strong evidence from our intelligence community that Russia has interfered in U.S. elections, a finding that Congress must fully examine, including its ominous implications for our political process and our security.

    Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, there have been other moments in history where voices in both Washington and Moscow argued that our areas of disagreement were so great, that we should not work on issues even of common interests between our two countries.

    For those who are considering this point, I would suggest re-reading President Kennedy’s commencement address that American University delivered just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy spoke of the pursuit of peace, as necessary and rational, quoting him at an age where singular nuclear weapon contains almost 10 times the explosive power delivered by all the allied forces in Second World War.

    President Kennedy rejected voices saying it is useless to speak of peace until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. Kennedy warned, “Let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which these differences can be resolved.”

    NUNN: Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, these words remain true today. I know Rex Tillerson pretty well. And I am confident that he is well prepared, to do what is essential for the security of our nation, to hold firm and tough where our national interests and values demand it and to build on our common interests in working with other nations, including Russia on practical concrete steps that will make the American people safer and more secure.

    Mr. Chairman, Senator Cardin, and other members of the Committee, I also consider Rex Tillerson’s experience and knowledge in business as an asset and as well as his knowledge of Russia.

    I think both are assets, not liability. I also consider his business experience very relevant to the world today as an asset. As I look at the world today, every significant international challenge we face has a very important business component. It’s true in Ukraine, it’s true in the Middle East, it’s true in most places. Rex Tillerson knows these crucial regions, he knows the leaders, and he understands the challenges and the risk.

    He is also keenly aware of the power of the private sector and the important role it can play in addressing these fundamental issues. Mr. Chairman, in wrapping up, I’m confident that if confirmed to be secretary of State, Rex Tillerson will take off his corporate hat, but he’ll use his vast experience to devote 100 percent of his considerable intellect, energy and experience to protecting America’s interest in the troubled world we’re in.

    I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I urge his confirmation.

    CORKER: Thank you so much for being here and participating and your many, many contributions relative to nuclear safety around the world.

    Secretary Gates.

    GATES: Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, distinguished members of the foreign relations committee. It gives me great pleasure to introduce my friend and fellow Eagle Scout, Rex Tillerson as the president-elect’s nominee to be the next secretary of State.

    I’ve known Mr. Tillerson for a number of years through our shared experience in leading the Boy Scouts of America. On many of occasions, after a day of meetings, Rex and I would talk, often for hours about international affairs including Russia and Vladimir Putin.

    I believe I have a pretty good idea about how he thinks about the world and the challenges we face. The secretary of State has four important roles; advising the president, negotiating with foreign governments and international organizations, representing the United States abroad, and leading the Department of State. Against a backdrop of having known or worked with 12 secretaries of State, I believe Mr. Tillerson is superbly qualified to carry out each of these roles.

    He is deeply knowledgeable about the international scene and geopolitics and importantly would be an informed and independent adviser to the president. He would be candid and honest, willing to tell the president straight from the shoulder what he needs to hear. He would bring decades of experience as a tough and successful negotiator with foreign governments to the position. I’ve heard him speak often to scout groups about American values and I know he would be an eloquent and passionate representative of the United States to the world.

    And finally, based on his long experience in leading a major corporation as well as the Boy Scouts, I know he will lead the Department of State with skill and respect for the professionals. Much has been said and written about Mr. Tillerson and Russia. I’ve spent my entire adult life dealing with the Soviet Union and Russia. I joined CIA over 50 years ago to do my bit in the epic struggle with the Soviet Union.

    During that time, I acquired a reputation as something as a hardliner. Just ask a couple of previous secretaries of State. Yet, I knew that we not only had to resist and contain the USSR, we also had to contain the risk of conflict with it. And that meant engaging in dialogue, negotiations, and even reaching agreements limiting strategic nuclear weapons and establishing agreed procedures to prevent confrontations from escalating.

    This new administration must thread the needle between pushing back against Vladimir Putin’s aggressions, meddling interventionism, ambitions and bullying and at the same time find a way to stop a dangerous downward spiral in our relationship with Russia. I believe Mr. Tillerson is the right person at the right time to help accomplish both of those goals. And so, it is with pride and confidence that I introduce him to you today and encourage his confirmation.

    CORKER: We thank you all for being here. You honor us with your presence, we thank you for your contribution. You do not have to leave, but you cannot stay there so…


    ... we actually hope you will stay somewhere in the premise and participate if you would like.


    CORKER: We have some new members to the committee today and I was thinking prior to this hearing that 10 years ago, I came on this committee as a new senator, in many ways to broaden my ability to — to serve our nation and to serve our state having been mostly a businessperson.

    When I came here, the first order of business was to deal with the surge in Iraq. Pretty monumental time. We had an under-resourced effort that was taking place in Iraq and at a time when, really in many ways, the United States had unleashed forces in the region that had not been seen – not unlike taking, in some ways, a big stick and hitting a hornets nest and changing dramatically the dynamic in the region.

    And so, we had the choice of whether we surge and try to be successful at what we began or take another course. Afghanistan also had been under-resourced and — and all of a sudden we began discussing things like nation-building, things that had not been part of our vocabulary for many years.

    We had the Arab Spring that took place in 2011. Again, some of which was built off of some of the activities that I mentioned earlier. And we had all kinds of incoherent things that took place; the quick throwing aside of a leader in Egypt that we had known for years, an undertaking in Libya that I still have never understood what the goal was, but left a large vacuum in the region with arms spreading throughout northern Africa and other places.

    We had the conflict in Syria that began, if you remember, with us cheering on the people who wanted basic human rights and more of a democracy. And then, we had the red line that our country did not follow — follow up on. After that, we had the taking of Crimea and the destabilizing of eastern Ukraine, some of which I think was driven by observing U.S. leadership in the world.

    We had China redrawing a map that had been around for thousands of years in the South China Sea and claiming islands and properties and building runways and doing things that, again, until that time had not occurred. We’ve had the whole destabilization of Europe where I think confidence levels in Europe are probably the lowest they’ve been in our lifetimes. Driven by concerns about, in many cases, what our role is but also the role of Russia and what it’s been doing in the region, the role of immigrants that are flowing in, the whole challenging of the European — the European model.

    And then, we’ve had a campaign, let’s face it, that has been somewhat unorthodox, one that has also given concern to our allies in the world and to many around the world as to just where America is going to be. With all of this chaos that has exhibited through multiple administrations and will continue under this for a period of time, we’ve had chaos where the United States has been withdrawing in its leadership role and to me that’s a recipe for further chaos.

    So, this is a very important hearing. I’ve had the — I had the ability the other day to sit down with General Flynn who’s going to be the national security adviser and I spent time with people around him for some time and I know that, rightly so, his focus is also on our country doing well economically.

    Every — every military leader we’ve had before us and certainly Secretary Gates have told us that if our nation is not strong economically, if we’re not doing the things fiscally to keep ourselves strong then our nation will be weak and our leadership around the world will be — be diminished.

    CORKER: And so, I’m thankful that is the case. A lot of people here realize that it’s not also — it’s also — it’s not only important for us to be economically successful, but we understand that autocrats in other places, when they themselves are not successful, end up creating havoc around the world for nationalistic reasons to — to build support within their countries.

    And therefore we don’t wish the other major countries in the world harm as it relates to economic growth. We want them to do well, countries like China and even Russia, who no doubt has conducted very nefarious activities here in our country.

    Many of us has seen in the Middle East the fact that poverty, not unlike what happens in our own country, where people who lives in cities and neighborhoods have no hope, crime permeates, things occur. And we’ve seen the same thing happen in the Middle East where young people with no hope are attracted to ideologies that end up threaten — threatening our own nation.

    So, I appreciate the fact that at the National Security Office, they’re not only connected to those who will be dealing with our issues of foreign policy and our role in the world, but also focus on those economic issues, which brings me to trade.

    Our country has shown great leadership around the world. Rob Portman served as our trade representative in previous administrations. And there’s been a great deal of talk about what our role will be in that regard. I think most of us believe that a world that continues to focus on free enterprise, a world that continues to have democratic principals more and more permeated, is a world that’s a better place for us. And while our — while we should always focus on trade as it relates to improving the standard of living of Americans, an insularly benefit is that people within those countries begin to adopt the values that we hold so dear here in our country.

    One of the things that many of us on the committee and so many in audience have been able to do is also to see the importance of American values around the world.

    It’s an amazing thing to — to be in Afghanistan for instance and to see women at 4:30 in the morning — who by the way do all of the hard work in Afghanistan — up and ready to vote in the first election that they’ve voted in or to see young girls going to schools that they never had the opportunity to go to. To be in refugee camps where truly every eye is on the American that’s there with hope, to be in — to be in Venezuela and to see families who — whose loved ones are in prison for political reasons and looking to us to change that.

    To be in villages in Africa where, for the first time because of American ingenuity, people — 600 million people without power now have hope with very little in the way of U.S. resources, but our leadership in setting a vision and working with others. The elimination almost of HIV, the dealing with Malaria, the dealing with other diseases like Ebola.

    Many of us — all of us I think, have been in situations where young people just want to touch us; they just want to see us. They want to hug Americans because they like the people who founded our country, believe in the American ideal. It’s not just a country, but it’s their hope. It’s their vision of what their life might be with American leadership. And I believe the world’s at its best when American leads.

    And I think most people at this bias believe the same thing. And we understand the importance of diplomacy and that all of us know with the one percent of the U.S. budget that we spend on efforts like Mr. Tillerson may lead. But that one percent — if we’re successful, the likelihood of the men and women that we cherish so much in our military are much less likely to be in harm’s way, which brings me to you.

    (inaudible) Mr. Tillerson, who by the way, had never met Mr. Trump as I understand until a few weeks ago — a month ago. I believe, like Senator Cardin — Cornyn said that it’s very, very possible that you are in fact an inspired choice.

    We look at the president to, if you think about it, approaches everything almost from an economic standpoint. That’s been the world that he has lived in. And the fact that you’ve led a global enterprise with 70,000 employees around the world, have been there for 41 and a half years, have met world leaders, know them up and — up close and personally. To me, that is going to give our new president much greater confidence in your ability to offer advice.

    And I think it’s gonna give the State Department possibly the ability to have the appropriate balance with other forces as it relates within the White House and other places, as it relates to developing a vision for our country.

    If you think about it, not only does the world not really understand where America is today — and all of us have had leaders in our offices wondering what is next — all of us. But if you think about the body politic here in our own country, doesn’t understand.

    You look at the election, we had a — we had the Bush presidency and then we had the Obama presidency, which was not the Bush presidency. And then we’ve had this election where many things have been said and sometimes in unorthodox ways.

    And so, not just the world leaders not know where we are, not do — not just citizens who watch us on television and other places, but our body politic here does not know. So, Mr. Tillerson, you’ve got a — this is a momentous time. This to me is the most important nomination that the president has made. The world paying attention to this hearing I think denotes that.

    You have the ability no doubt to draw a crowd. But it’s gonna be your responsibility to define clearly what America’s role in the world is going to be. I know Secretary Gates has spoken to this many times as he talks about the way the world was when it was us and the Soviet Union. But now, it’s very different. And the American people even don’t fully understand what the future holds. You’ve got to restore our credibility secondly.

    Look, the NATO alliance is shaken. Europe is shaken. Our Arab friends, because of negotiations that have taken place, are concerned about the future and I could go on and on, but I want to be respectful to other peoples’ time. But one of your first goals is gonna be is to restore U.S. credibility around the world. You’re gonna need to prioritize.

    One of the things I’ve witnessed over the last several — for the entire 10 years I’ve been here actually — is there’s a lot of activity that takes place, but it’s hard to discern where it’s taking us. And so I think as a person who’s led an organization, who’s risen from the bottom, who’s been the CEO of a global enterprise may in fact be an inspired — inspired choice to prioritize, to restore credibility, which is what a company like your has had to do, to have those relationships based on trust, based on people knowing that we’re gonna do what we say.

    And then lastly, you are the person that is charged with being the principal adviser to the president on foreign policy. And I think that’s the question that people on both sides of the aisle will raise most here today is — we know that — we know that the president-elect’s foreign policy is — is evolving as he takes office, as he talks to people. And there’s no way that you could speak on his behalf today. That cannot happen.

    So what people here today are gonna want to know is, how are you going to advise him? You’re gonna be one of the last people to talk to him. You’re gonna be up under the hood, sharing with him what you think ought to happen. We know that at the end of the day, you’re gonna carry out his policy. And all of us have watched as other secretaries of State have tried to carry out their — their own policy and not the president’s. And we know that that does not work.

    So, we thank you for being here. My sense is that you are going to rise to the occasion and that you are going to demonstrate that you are in fact an inspired choice, that you’re gonna be able to take the years of accomplishment in relationships and transfer that and translate it into a foreign policy that benefits U.S. national interest.

    CORKER: Thank you again for being willing to put yourself before our country and world in this manner.

    And with that, let me turn to our distinguished ranking member and my friend, Ben Cardin.

    CARDIN: Well, again, Senator Corker thank you very much for the accommodations in this hearing. And I agree with your final comment. This hearing is about Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Tillerson’s views. But I think we’re gonna have some specific questions because of statements made by Mr. Trump. But we do wanna hear your views, particularly as it relates to many of the challenges that Chairman Corker went through in his opening statement.

    To Senator Nunn, it’s a pleasure to have you in our committee and we thank you very much for your years of public service.

    Secretary Gates, thank you for all of your service and you honor our committee, both of you, by being here today.

    And I also want to, once again, welcome our new colleagues. Senator Booker, Senator Merkley, Senator Portman, Senator Young, I’ve worked with all four of you before in different capacities and I know your commitment to our national security and to foreign policy. And I know you all will be great additions to our committee.

    I wanna acknowledge Senator King who is here, it’s not the first time that Senator King’s been in our committee room to observe a hearing. We gotta get you on the committee. But we thank you again, for you interest in — in this hearing.

    And Mr. Tillerson, as I told you in our private meeting, thank you. Thank you for being willing to serve the public. It’s not easy, to put yourself forward, as you found since your nomination has been brought forward, your life has changed pretty dramatically. Not just for you, but your entire family. And we thank you for your willingness to serve our country.

    Providing advice and consent on the nominees of the president is one of most important, constitutional powers of the Senate. It’s an awesome responsibility and one that I know that all of us on this committee, take with the utmost seriousness.

    Mr. Tillerson, there is no question about your impressive record in the business world, rising through the ranks and then running Exxon, one of the largest multinational operations in the world. Yet, I would offer having a view from the C-Suite at Exxon, is not at all the same view from the 7th floor of the Department of State.

    And those who suggest that anyone who can run a successful business, can of course, run a government agency do a profound disservice to both. Serving the narrow, market-driven interest of Exxon shareholders, is not the same as serving the national interest of all the American people.

    Effective corporate governance in management does not always lend itself to government decision making, where bureaucracies and representative institutions, such as Congress, serve a different political and social purposes than maximizing profits.

    I therefore want to get a sense of how you envision pivoting from the mindset of an oil man focused on profits, to that of a statesman, focused on promoting American interests and values around the world. As you know, Congress has a separate and co-equal branch of government has an important role to play in ensuring that the values that have animated our nations since its founding continue to flourish.

    So first, I wanna share with you, as I did in our private meeting, my vision of the United States foreign policy and the role of the secretary of state in carrying out that policy. I approach this hearing and discussion today with a clear set of expectations of the next administration.

    I believe strongly in a world where America works with its allies and partners, a world that is governed by laws and institutions consistent with the liberal, international order. On one where we champion our values, both at home and abroad.

    Indeed, I think it’s worth spending a few minutes of this morning on the questions of human rights, Democracy, good governance, anti-corruption and civil society support. It is worth doing so, both because of the critical importance of these issues for America’s role in the world and our values are our interest, not a separate set of considerations, but also because of the nature of Exxon and your work there. Mr. Tillerson leaves some troubling questions about how you view these issues and how you as secretary of State intend to approach them.

    As you may know, over the course of my tenure in the House and Senate, I’ve championed the cause of human rights and the importance of Democratic process and good governance. So when I see violations of the sovereignty by China and the South China Sea, I speak out. When I see gross human rights violations in Ethiopia, I speak out. When I see massive corruptions in countries with extreme poverty, like Ecuador and New Guinea, I speak out. And when I see severe erosion of Democratic institutions in Venezuela, I speak out.

    Indeed, events over the past year serve as a stark reminder, that democracy will not defend itself. It requires those of us who believe in the enduring values of the Democratic experiment, to nature and support it and to defend it from authoritarian opponents who do not share our values.

    Perhaps, the most egregious events we’ve seen recently, has been what has happened by President Putin of Russia, having effectively killed the nation’s nuanced democracy, has led efforts across Europe and the former Soviet Union to erode support for democratic institutions and calls into question well-established rules of the road.

    Moscow directs efforts undermined democracy through propaganda, false news, cyber attacks and funding for populous political parties abroad. So perhaps, it should come as no surprise, that these nefarious activities have reached our shores, but it’s stunning, nonetheless.

    Last week, the intelligence community found that Mr. Putin did indeed direct efforts to interfere in our elections. That’s their conclusion. They found that Kremlin attacked Hillary Clinton and directed resources to that end. I’m not saying the Russia’s efforts were decisive in our election outcome. That’s not the point. The point is that we, the United States, were victims of cyber attack of our Democratic process.

    Recent news accounts, indicate Russia may well have information about Mr. Trump. And they could use that to compromise our presidency. It cannot be business as usual. That is why I was proud to introduce a bipartisan bill yesterday, with Senator McCain and several members of this committee, including Senator Menendez, Shaheen, Rubio and Portman, along with Senator Graham, Klobuchar, Sasse and Durbin, which will impose enhanced sanctions on Russia for its interference in our election and its ongoing aggression in Ukraine and Syria.

    We need to stand up to this bully in Moscow and increase the cost for his behavior. So I was disappointed that in your prepared opening remarks submitted to the committee yesterday, there was no mention about the direct, confirmed cyber attack by Russia on America. But you did find time to say, it was the absence of American leadership that this door was left open and unintended signals were sent. So I wanna know exactly what additional actions the United States should have taken against Russia, in your view.

    Do you, for example, support additional sanctions against Russia, demonstrating America’s leadership, like what my colleagues and I introduced yesterday? Mr. Tillerson, I’m sure you can understand why I and many of my colleagues, have concerns about your relationship with Mr. Putin.

    And this is not simply a question of what you saw when you gazed into his eyes, you don’t strike me as someone likely to be naive. But also, about how Exxon conducted itself in supporting directly and indirectly, funding for the tools that Putin has used to crush democracy and descent at home and disown division abroad.

    While I do not suggest it was your intent, it’s frankly not too great of a distance from Exxon’s business partnerships to Putin’s Kremlin-controlled slush funds essential for his disinformation campaign around the world. You will be representing a president who may blatantly ignore the consensus of 17 independent intelligent agencies, who have said that the Russia had interfered with our election in an unprecedented way.

    The same president to whom you will report has also made it clear that he may ignore Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, his illegal annexation of Crimea. His interference in Syria, where Russian’s forces partnered with Iran, Hezbollah and Shia militia, to shift battlefield momentum towards a dictator guilty of war crimes.

    Russia itself is culpable of war crimes, for its backing of Bashar Al-Assad, who has starved, barrel bomb and tortured the Syrian people into submission. And yet, President-elect Trump may take quick steps to make Putin a close ally of the United States of America.

    So there’s a serious discussion to be had here today, about Russia and the president-elect’s plans for Putin. And we need to know and understand your views, as the Chairman has said, on these critical issues of national security.

    In addition, if we take seriously that your tenure and experience at Exxon serves as qualifications for secretary of State, then there’s likewise a serious discussion this committee needs to have about the potential for conflicts of interest that arise, from your long corporate tenure.

    For far too long, in my estimation, U.S. foreign policy has treated core governance issues as secondary considerations. If you become our nation’s top diplomat, I want to know if governance issues will become a primary consideration.

    CARDIN: I’ve always worked free governance issues is one of the most important aspects of our foreign policy. I have been centrally involved in several legislative efforts over the years to bring transparency to extracted industries, to foster high standards of — on corrupt practices and to use all the tools at our disposal when it comes to supporting human rights in civil societies. So, I’m troubled that on many of these issues, Exxon, under your leadership, appears to have been pushing in the opposite direction.

    Mr. Tillerson, we have much to discuss. If confirmed, you will be assuming your new job at a consequential time. Indeed, I believe the United States today stands as a turning point in history. National power, economic, military, diplomatic is being redefined and redistributed across the globe.

    International institutions, international financial and economic orders are under distress. Climate change is causing irreparable harm and creating and leading to great instability. In many parts of the world, there’s a view that American power, determination and maybe more importantly our support for American values is uncertain. And clearly, candidate Trump added to that uncertainty.

    We have global challenges. The Middle East is undergoing a period of unprecedented violence and instability. Iran is committed to confrontations with the United States and its allies, fomenting terrorism to challenge regional water. There are no less than three civil wars in this part of the world.

    U.S. leadership is required to not only support movement towards negotiated political settlements. Six years after the hope of our spring, the region has entered into a long winter in which many governments are backsliding in inclusive politic space for civil society and open economies.

    The fractured Middle East underscores my fundamental belief that the United States cannot pursue a hard-nose security agenda or economic ties without prioritizing values such as political inclusion, human rights and free active — a free active media and civil society. Without these elements, instability will persist with serious implications for countering violent extremism and stinting the flow of refugees heading for Europe’s shore.

    I also need to stress that our important partner in this part of the world, Israel, needs more than tweets about how great our relationship is going to be. I hope we will hear from you today concrete visions with specific proposals for the way to forward and strengthening that strategic partnership.

    And despite the challenges, encouraging opportunities exists for our country. President Obama leaves the next administration as an inheritance, strengthened relationships with historic allies in Europe and Asia, a reenergize partnership with India and growing economic relations with countries across Sub-Sahara Africa that provide promising platforms to advance U.S. security and economic interests.

    I recognize that what I outlined here may not be in line with President-elect Trump’s vision of the world. But I believe that core values like standing up against violations of international law, against war crimes, against human rights violations, against corruption and speaking up for democracy and freedom of speech must be at the forefront of American’s foreign policy agenda.

    Finally, I want to note that if confirmed, you’ll be taking over as leader of one of the most skilled and able workforces in — of any organization on the planet. Our foreign affairs and development professionals are truly among the most able and dedicated of our public servants on the front lines safeguarding our national security. And as ranking member of this committee, I’ve benefited greatly from their insight and counsel over the years

    I hope and trust and encourage you will take full advantage of the dedicated public servants of the Department of State and USAID should you be confirmed. They’re deeply committed to protecting and extending our nation’s values and interests.

    I’m certain that you and our nation will benefit greatly from a full and robust partnership between your office and the department you have been nominated to lead. Mr. Chairman, I look forward to hearing from our witness and I look forward to questionings.

    CORKER: Mr. Tillerson, thank you for being here. And I think you’ve been adequately introduced.

    And I think the world knows more about you than they ever thought today. So, without using any more time, we thank you for being here today.

    I know you may have some family members to introduce which is always helpful. And if you wish to do so, begin with that and then with your comments.

    TILLERSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

    Yes, I do have members of my family with me today. My wife, Renda, for more than 30 years who has kept a welcoming home when I would come back from my many travels and also for our sons and our five grandchildren. My sister, Jo Peters — Jo Lynn Peters, a lifelong educator, high school mathematics teacher — math teacher coach and teaching many, many years in the Texas public school systems.

    My sister, Dr. Rae Ann Hamilton, a family practice position at Abilene, Texas for more than 30 years. And my brother-in-law, Judge Lee Hamilton is now finishing — or has just begun to serve his fifth term on the bench at the 104th District of the State District Courts of Texas in Abilene, Texas.

    I appreciate so much the love and support they’ve given me in my past endeavors, but most particularly that they would come all the way up from Texas to be with me today.

    Good morning, Chairman Corker and others. I’m honored to have the backing of Senator Cornyn, Senator Cruz from my home state of Texas.

    I do want to thank Senator Nunn for his commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, something that he remains as steadfast today as ever. And to Secretary Gates for his service to eight U.S. presidents and his own leadership of the — as president of the Boy Scouts of America.

    Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, and members of the committee, it’s an honor to appear before you today as President-elect Trump’s nominee for secretary of State and seek the approval of this committee and the full Senate for my confirmation.

    I come before you at a pivotal time in both the history of our nation and our world. And everywhere we look, people in nations are deeply unsettled. Old ideas and international norms which were well understood and governed behaviors in the past may long — no longer be effective in our time. We face considerable threats in this evolving new environment.

    China has emerged as an economic power in global trade and our interactions have been both friendly and adversarial. While Russia seeks respect and relevance on the global stage, its recent activities have disregarded America’s interest.

    Radical Islam is not a new ideology, but it is hateful, deadly and an illegitimate expression of the Islamic faith. Adversaries like Iran and North Korea pose great threats to the world because of their refusal to conform to international norms.

    As we confront these realities, how should America respond? My answer is simple; to achieve the stability that is foundational to peace and security in the 21st century, American leadership must not only be renewed, it must be asserted.

    We have many advantages on which to build. Our alliances are durable and our allies are looking for a return of our leadership. Our men and women in uniform are the world’s finest fighting force. And we possess…

    PROTESTER: (OFF-MIKE) my home was destroyed. Senators, be brave and protect my community. (Inaudible) protect America.

    Rex Tillerson I refute (ph) you. I reject you. My home was destroyed by (inaudible) family.

    TILLERSON: Our men and women in uniform are the world’s finest fighting force and we posses the world’s largest economy. America is still the destination of choice for people the world over because of our track record of benevolence and hope for our fellow man.

    America has been indispensable in providing the stability to prevent another world war, increase global prosperity and encourage the expansion of liberty. Our role in the world has also historically entailed a place of moral leadership.

    In scope of international affairs, America’s level of good will toward the world is unique and we must continue to display a commitment to personal liberty, human dignity, and principled action in our foreign policy. Quite simply, we are the only global super power with the means and the moral compass capable of shaping the world for good.

    If we do not lead, we risk plunging the world deeper into confusion and danger. But we have stumbled. In recent decades, we have cast American leadership into doubt. In some instances, we have withdrawn from the world. In others, we have intervened with good intentions, but did not achieve the stability and global security we sought.

    Instead, our actions and our non-actions have triggered a host unintended consequences and created a void of uncertainty. Today, our friends still want to help us, but they don’t know how. And meanwhile, our adversaries have been emboldened to take advantage of this absence of American leadership.

    In this campaign, President-elect Trump proposed a bold new commitment to advancing American interest in our foreign policy. I hope to explain what this approach means and how I would implement it if confirmed as Secretary of state. Americans welcome this rededication to American security, liberty and prosperity.

    TILLERSON: But new leadership is incomplete without accountability. If accountability does not start with ourselves, we cannot credibly extend it to our friends and our adversaries. We must hold ourselves accountable to upholding the promises we make to others.

    In America they can be trusted and good faith is essential to supporting our partners, achieving our goals and assuring our security. We must hold our allies accountable to commitments they make. We cannot look the other way at allies who do not meet their obligations.

    This is an injustice not only to us, but to long standing friends who honor their promising and bolster our own national security such as Israel and we must hold those who are not our friends accountable to the agreements they make. Our failure to do this over the recent decades has diminished our standing and encouraged bad actors around the world to break their word.

    We cannot afford to ignore violations of international accords as we have done with Iran. We cannot continue to accept empty promises, like the ones China has made to pressure North Korea to reform only to shy away from enforcement.

    Looking the other way when trust is broken only encourages more bad behavior and it must end. We cannot be accountable thought if we are not truthful and honest in our dealings. As you are aware my long standing involvement with the Boy Scouts of America. One of our bedrock ideals is honesty. Indeed the phrase “on my honor” begins the Boy Scout oath and it must undergird our foreign policy.

    In particular we need to be honest about radical Islam. It is with good reason that our fellow citizens have a growing concern about radical Islam and the murderous acts committed in its name against Americans and our friends.

    Radical Islam poses a great risk to the stability of nations and the well being of their citizens. Powerful digital media platforms now allow ISIS, Al Qaida, and other terror groups to spread poisonous ideology that runs completely counter to the values of the American people and all people around the world who value human life.

    These groups are often enabled and emboldened by nations, organizations, and individuals sympathetic to their cause. These actors must face consequences for aiding and abetting what can only be called evil. The most urgent step in thwarting radical Islam is defeating ISIS.

    The Middle East and its surrounding regions pose many challenges which require our attention including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. There are competed priorities in this region which must be and will be addressed but they must not distract from our utmost mission of defeating ISIS. Because when everything is a priority, nothing is priority. Defeating ISIS must be our foremost priority in the Middle East. Eliminating ISIS will be our first step in disrupting the capabilities of other groups and individuals committed to striking our homeland and our allies.

    The demise of ISIS will also allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like Al Qaida, the Muslim brotherhood and certain elements within Iran. But defeat will not occur on the battlefield alone. We must win the war of ideas.

    If confirmed I will ensure the State Department does its part in supporting Muslims around the world who reject radical Islam in all its forms. We should also acknowledge the realities about China. China’s island building in the South China Sea is an illegal taking of disputed areas without regard for international norms.

    China’s economic and trade practices have not always followed its commitments to global agreements. It steals our intellectual property and is aggressive in expansionists in the digital realm. It has not been a reliable partner in using its full influence to curve North Korea. China has proven a willingness to act with abandon in the pursuit of its own goals, which at times has put it at conflict with American interest. We have to deal with what we see, not what we hope.

    But we need to see the positive dimensions in our relationship with China as well. The economic wellbeing of our two nations is deeply intertwined. China has been a valuable ally in curtailing certain elements of radical Islam. We should not let disagreements over other issues exclude areas for productive partnership.

    TILLERSON: We must also be clear eyed about our relationship with Russia. Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests. It has invaded the Ukraine, including the taking of Crimea. And supported Syrian forces that brutally violates the laws of war. Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at resurgent Russia.

    But it was in the absence of American leadership that this door was left open and unintended signals were sent. We backtracked on commitments we made to allies, we sent weak or mixed signals with red lines that turned into green lights. We did not recognize that Russia did not — does not think like we do.

    Words alone do now sweep away an uneven and at times contentious history between our two nations. But we need an open and frank dialog with Russia regarding its ambitions so we know how to chart our own course.

    For a cooperation with Russia based on common interest as possible, such as reducing the global threat of terrorism, we ought to explore these options. Where important differences remain, we should be steadfast in defending the interest of America and her allies. Russia must know that we will be accountable to our commitments and those of our allies and that Russia must be held to account for its actions.

    Our approach to human rights begins by acknowledging that American leadership requires moral clarity. We do not face an either or choice on defending global human rights. Our values or our interest when it comes to human rights and humanitarian assistance.

    It is unreasonable to expect that every foreign policy endeavor will be driven by human rights considerations alone, especially when the security of the American people is at stake. But our leadership demands actions specifically focused on improving the conditions of people the world over; utilizing both aid and where appropriate economic sanctions as instruments of foreign policy.

    And we must adhere to standards of accountability. Our recent engagements with the government of Cuba was not accompanied by any significant concessions on human rights. We have not held them accountable for their conduct. Their leaders received much while their people received little. That serves neither the interests of Cubans or Americans.

    Abraham Lincoln declared that America is the last best hope of Earth. Our moral light must not go out if we are to remain an agent of freedom for mankind. Supporting human rights in our foreign policy is a key component of clarifying to a watching world what America stands for.

    In closing, let us also be proud about the ideals that define us and the liberties we have secured at great cost. The ingenuity, ideas and culture of Americans who came before us made the United States the greatest nation in history; so have their sacrifices.

    We should never forget that we stand on the shoulders of those who have sacrificed much, and in some cases everything. They include our fallen heroes in uniform, our foreign service officers and other Americans in the field who likewise gave all for their country.

    If confirmed, in my work for the president and the American people, I will seek to engender trust with foreign leaders and governments and put in place agreements that will serve the purposes and interests of American foreign policy. The secretary of State works for the president and seeks to implement his foreign policy objectives.

    To do that, I must work closely with my cabinet colleagues and all relevant departments and agencies of the administration to build consensus. But let me also stress that keeping the president’s trust means keeping the public trust. And keeping the public trust means keeping faith with their elected representatives. I want all the members of this committee to know that, should I be confirmed, I will listen to your concerns and those of your staff and partner together to achieve great things for the country we all love.

    I’m an engineer by training; I seek to understand the facts, follow where they lead and apply logic to all international affairs. We must see the world for what it is, have clear priorities and understand that our power is considerable, but it is not infinite. We must, where possible, build pathways to new partnerships and strengthen old bonds which have frayed.

    If confirmed, I intend to conduct a foreign policy consistent with these ideals. We will never apologize for who we are or what we hold dear. We will see the world for what it is, be honest with ourselves and the American people, follow facts where they lead us and hold ourselves and others accountable.

    I thank you for your time and look forward to your questions.

    CORKER: Thank you very much for your testimony.

    Do you commit to appear and testify upon requests from this committee?

    TILLERSON: Yes, sir.

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