As the world's biggest carbon polluter — its oil spews an estimated 1 trillion pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere each year — ExxonMobil has the most at stake in the battle over climate legislation. In a sharp and cynical ploy, Tillerson rejected the cap-and-trade system being considered by Congress last year and instead backed a direct tax on carbon pollution — perhaps the most effective way to halt global warming, but one he knew had absolutely no chance of passing. To cover his bets, Tillerson also poured $27 million into lobbying, much of it directed toward killing the climate bill. Such tactics may endanger the planet, but they help protect ExxonMobil's bottom line. With the threat of regulation successfully eliminated, the world's richest corporation grew even richer, posting $7 billion in profits in the third quarter alone — roughly $100 million a day. And with ice in the Arctic vanishing at an unprecedented pace — melting that one climate scientist calls a "death spiral" — ExxonMobil could even be drilling for oil and gas beneath the North Pole in the not-so-distant future.
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