UPDATE: This piece originally noted that these nine CEOs “were paid more than $150 million last year to emit 1.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – about $88,000 per ton.” It should have read “$88,000 per million metric tons.” We have fixed the error at the link and the updated release is below.
We’ve known for decades that it pays to pollute. Sometimes it’s energy, chemical or manufacturing corporations avoiding the costs of environmental protection by illegally – or even legally – pumping hazardous discharge into surrounding air and water. Sometimes it’s fracking companies refusing to provide potable water for communities whose wells and aquifers have been permanently poisoned by the blasting of toxic chemicals underground.
And sometimes, as we examine here, it appears simply to be greater compensation for CEOs whose companies emit more greenhouse gases.
We recently examined the financial disclosure forms of the nine publically-traded American oil and gas companies, along with reports tallying the greenhouse gas emissions footprint at each of these companies, and we found this: Almost without exception, the more carbon emissions the company produced in 2015, the more the CEO got paid in 2016.
High atop both the executive pay and carbon emissions list is Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson. Before being called up by the Trump administration, Tillerson ran ExxonMobil. In 2016, the final full year of his tenure there, Tillerson was compensated to the tune of almost $27.4 million, or just over $75,000 a day. And in the previous year ExxonMobil emitted almost 600 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
In summation, these nine CEOs were paid more than $150 million last year to emit 1.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – about $88,000 per million metric tons.
Indeed, it pays to pollute.