By Anders Lorenzen
US’s new Secretary of State, the former Exxon Mobil boss, Rex Tillerson, has not yet been in charge for a month. But his former company is starting to reap the benefits of the pro- fossil fuel Trump administration.
Earlier this month the fossil fuel giant announced that up until 2022 they would invest $22bn on its chemical and oil refining plants on the US east coast. The investment will span 11 sites, and the company says it would create 35,000 temporary and 12,000 permanent jobs. Though the expansion actually started during the Obama years in 2013, Exxon CEO Darren Woods says that the scope of the project is now growing. Speaking at Ceraweek, a gathering of energy executives, he said: “Exxon Mobil is building a manufacturing powerhouse along the U.S. Gulf Coast. These businesses are leveraging the shale revolution to manufacture cleaner fuels and more energy-efficient plastics.”
Last month the company pledged that they would also increase their investments in their overall operations by 16%, with the majority of this expected to benefit their shale gas operations.
The Trump administration did not waste any time in claiming that this was due to Donald Trump’s policies, as he had already started to ease the regulations on the fossil fuel industry. White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said that Exxon Mobil had made it clear to the president it was investing more in the US because of Trump’s push for fewer regulations and tax relief.
While Exxon Mobil has now formally adopted a position that it agrees with the science of climate change, Mr Woods is adamant that this would not stop them pursuing a “business as usual”-mode. He said the global economy can grow while the climate improves: “I believe the assumption that affordable energy and a cleaner environment are a zero-sum game is mistaken. It underestimates the power of technology.” Apart from continuing its aggressive investments in oil and gas operations, Mr Woods highlighted that Exxon was investing and researching in technologies which can help tackle climate change. He talked about Carbon Capture Sequestration and biofuels but failed to mention renewable energy technologies.
It has not taken one of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies long to seize the opportunity of the Trump administration’s pro-fossil fuel policies. But the big question which remains is when will Trump’s less pro-clean energy and climate change stance start to impact the US green economy?