A former White House official and one-time oil industry lobbyist whose editing
of government reports on climate change prompted criticism from environmentalists
will join ExxonMobil Corp., the oil company said Tuesday.
The White House announced over the weekend that Philip Cooney, chief of staff
of its Council on Environmental Quality, had resigned, calling it a long-planned
departure. He had been head of the climate program at the American Petroleum
Institute, the trade group for large oil companies.
Cooney will join ExxonMobil in the fall, company spokesman Russ Roberts told
The Associated Press in a telephone interview from its Dallas headquarters.
He declined to described Cooney's job.
Cooney could not be reached through the White House for comment.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Cooney's departure was "completely
unrelated" to the disclosure two days earlier that he had made changes
in several government climate change reports that were issued in 2002 and 2003.
"Mr. Cooney has long been considering his options following four years
of service to the administration," Perino said. "He'd accumulated
many weeks of leave and decided to resign and take the summer off to spend time
with his family."
The White House made no mention of Cooney's plans to join ExxonMobil, the world's
largest oil company. Its executives have been among the most skeptical in the
oil industry about the prospects of climate change because of a growing concentration
of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The leading greenhouse gas is carbon
dioxide from burning fossil fuels.
Like the Bush administration, ExxonMobil Chairman Lee Raymond has argued strongly
against the Kyoto climate accord and has raised questions about the certainty
of climate science as it relates to possible global warming. Greenpeace and
other environmental groups have singled out Raymond and ExxonMobil for protests
because of its position on climate change.
Last week, the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit group that helps
whistleblowers, made available documents showing that Cooney was closely involved
in final editing of two administration climate reports. He made changes that
critics said consistently played down the certainty of the science surrounding
After Cooney's involvement in editing the climate reports was first reported
by The New York Times, the White House defended the changes, saying they were
part of the normal, wide-ranging review process and did not violate an administration
pledge to rely on sound science.
A whistleblower, Rick Piltz, who resigned in March from the government office
that coordinates federal climate change programs, made the documents —
showing handwritten edits by Cooney — available to the Project on Government
Accountability and, in turn, to news media.