Hours after President Donald Trump was scheduled to have lunch with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday, the White House issued an unusual press release. Trump congratulated Exxon Mobil—the company Tillerson formerly led—on its announcement that it would be spending $20 billion on expanded investments in 11 Gulf Coast projects. The oil and gas giant claims the move will create 45,000 jobs.
As if the close ties between the White House and Exxon weren’t clear enough, one part of the White House statement contains language that is nearly identical to language in Exxon’s press release.
Here are excerpts from the two releases, with the identical wording bolded. First, the White House document, which was emailed to reporters at 3:43 p.m.:
Exxon Mobil is strategically investing in new refining and chemical-manufacturing projects in the United States Gulf Coast region to expand its manufacturing and export capacity. The company’s Growing the Gulf program consists of 11 major chemical, refining, lubricant and liquefied natural gas projects at proposed new and existing facilities along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Investments began in 2013 and are expected to continue through at least 2022.
Exxon Mobil’s projects, once completed and operating at mature levels, are expected to have far-reaching and long-lasting benefits. Projects planned or under way are expected to create more than 35,000 construction jobs and more than 12,000 full-time jobs. These are full-time manufacturing jobs that are mostly high-skilled and high-paying, and have annual salaries ranging from $75,000 to $125,000. These jobs will have a multiplier effect, creating many more jobs in the community that service these new investments.
And this is from the Exxon release, which was posted on the company’s website at 3:10 p.m.:
ExxonMobil is strategically investing in new refining and chemical-manufacturing projects in the U.S. Gulf Coast region to expand its manufacturing and export capacity. The company’s Growing the Gulf expansion program, consists of 11 major chemical, refining, lubricant and liquefied natural gas projects at proposed new and existing facilities along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Investments began in 2013 and are expected to continue through at least 2022.
Woods said that ExxonMobil’s Gulf expansion projects are expected to provide long-term economic benefits to the region, noting the creation of direct employment opportunities and the multiplier effects of the company’s investments.
“Importantly, Growing the Gulf also creates jobs and lasting economic benefits for the communities where they’re located,” Woods said. “All told, we expect these 11 projects to create over 45,000 jobs. Many of these are high-skilled, high-paying jobs averaging about $100,000 a year. And these jobs will have a multiplier effect, creating many more jobs in the communities that service these new investments.“
The White House statement also highlights effusive praise for Trump from Darren Woods, who is Tillerson’s successor as Exxon CEO. “Investments of this scale require a pro-growth approach and a stable regulatory environment and we appreciate the President’s commitment to both,” said Woods in a speech in Houston Monday, according to the White House document. “The energy industry has proven it can operate safely and responsibly. Private sector investment is enhanced by this Administration’s support for smart regulations that support growth while protecting the environment.”
Exxon has a lot to be pleased with so far in Trump’s term. In addition to seeing Tillerson become the nation’s top diplomat, the company scored an important victory when Trump signed a bill overturning an Obama-era rule requiring it to disclose payments to foreign governments. And last week, the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew a rule that would require oil and gas companies to report their methane emissions.
Trump is framing Exxon’s announcement as a win for jobs:
Buy American & hire American are the principals at the core of my agenda, which is: JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Thank you @exxonmobil.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 6, 2017
I’ve contacted the White House and Exxon Mobil to ask if Tillerson was involved in this announcement and will update if they respond.