A former White House official and onetime oil industry lobbyist whose editing of government reports on climate change prompted criticism from environmentalists will join Exxon Mobil Corp., the oil company said yesterday.
The White House announced over the weekend that Philip A. Cooney, chief of staff of its Council on Environmental Quality, had resigned. He previously had been head of the climate program at the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for large oil companies.
Cooney will join Exxon Mobil in the fall, company spokesman Russ Roberts said in a telephone interview. He declined to describe Cooney's job.
Cooney could not be reached 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 Exxon Mobil, 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, Exxon Mobil 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.
Last week, the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit group that helps whistleblowers, made available documents showing Cooney was closely involved in the final editing of two administration climate reports. He made changes that critics said played down the certainty of the science surrounding climate change.