In a speech delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations on Wednesday, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson said fears about climate change, drilling and even energy dependence on other countries are all overblown. He said he believes burning fossil fuels does lead to global warming, but it’s no big deal and certainly not an impending cataclysm. He also said the press and environmentalists are manufacturing fear about fracking and fossil fuels.
Perhaps the most controversial thing he said is that the general public is “illiterate” when it comes to science and math.
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson says fears about climate change, drilling, and energy dependence are overblown.
In a speech Wednesday, Tillerson acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet, but said society will be able to adapt. The risks of oil and gas drilling are well understood and can be mitigated, he said. And dependence on other nations for oil is not a concern as long as access to supply is certain, he said.
Tillerson blamed a public that is "illiterate" in science and math, a "lazy" press, and advocacy groups that "manufacture fear" for energy misconceptions in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.
He highlighted that huge discoveries of oil and gas in North America have reversed a 20-year decline in U.S. oil production in recent years. He also trumpeted the global oil industry’s ability to deliver fuels during a two-year period of dramatic uncertainty in the Middle East, the world’s most important oil and gas-producing region.
"No one, anywhere, any place in the world has not been able to get crude oil to fuel their economies," he said.
Tillerson expressed frustration at the level of public concern over new drilling techniques that tap natural gas and oil in shale formations under several states. He said environmental advocacy groups that "manufacture fear" have alarmed a public that doesn’t understand drilling practices — or math, science or engineering in general. He blamed "lazy" journalists for producing stories that scare the public but don’t investigate the claims of advocacy groups.
Drilling for oil and gas will always involve risks of spills and accidents, he said. But those risks are manageable and worth taking because they are small given the amount of energy they produce.*
*Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin/AP (Jun 27, 2012) – Exxon chief: environmentalists guilty of manufacturing drilling fear
- Council on Foreign Relations (Jun 27, 2012) – Transcript of Tillerson Speech: The New North American Energy Paradigm: Reshaping the Future