Environmental and Energy Law Blog

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Trump Taps Rex Tillerson to Head State Department

What is the future of Amercian energy and foreign policy?

In a widely reported and controversial move, President-Elect Donald Trump tapped ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Tex Tillerson to run the state department.

“His tenacity, broad experience and deep understanding of geopolitics make him an excellent choice for Secretary of State,” Trump said in a statement.

Tillerson started his career with Exxon in 1975 as a production engineer and has since held a number of internationally focused positions that have enabled him to cultivate relationships in the Arab world, South America, and most notably Russia. In fact, his long standing relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin has raised concerns among lawmakers and media pundits alike.

Nonetheless, the pick is another in what some are calling Trump's transactional approach to domestic and foreign policy. In addition, others view this as a continuation of the state department's "economic statecraft" approach to foreign policy. As CEO of the third largest publicly traded energy companies in the world, Tillerson has oversight of operations in more than 50 countries.

“He will promote regional stability and focus on the core national security interests of the United States. Rex knows how to manage a global enterprise, which is crucial to running a successful State Department, and his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none," said Trump”

Whether or not Tillerson will make it through what could be contentious Senate confirmation hearings is unclear at this juncture. It is important to note, however, that a presidential selection for Secretary of State has never been denied by Congressional lawmakers.

Despite some concerns over his connections to Russia, several GOP heavyweights have praised the nomination, and some energy sector observers believe that Tillerson heading the state department, along with former TX governor Rick Perry running the energy department, will be good for the oil and gas sector in Texas.

The question remains as to what America's energy future holds, and controversies over hydraulic fracturing and energy exploration will continue to require the expertise of an experienced energy exploration and development law attorney.

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