On Tuesday, Exxon announced that it will spend $20 billion over the course of a decade at 11 proposed and existing refining and chemical manufacturing sites. In the process, the company anticipates adding more than 45,000 jobs.
President Trump wasted no time in taking credit, even releasing a statement the same hour that copied many of Exxon’s own sentences and an entire paragraph word for word.
“President Trump made a promise to bring back jobs to America,” the White House statement said. “The spirit of optimism sweeping the country is already boosting job growth, and it is only the beginning.”
In a Facebook video, Trump went further to take credit for the announcement. “This is something that was done to a large extent because of our policies and the policies of this new administration,” he said. “I said we’re bringing back jobs, this is one big example of that.”
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But Exxon itself said in its release that this isn’t really new. The investments it announced on Tuesday were begun in 2013 and will continue through at least 2022, beginning before and extending past Trump’s current term in office. Many of them were announced and even in process before the election: one in 2012, two in 2014, and one last year; the most recent one in Corpus Christi, TX, was announced in July.
At least one of them, a lubricant plant in Baton Rouge, LA, is already completed.
In its announcement, the company said it is expanding these plants now “to take advantage of the American energy revolution.” That so-called revolution began before Trump entered the White House, as new hydraulic fracturing technologies and techniques have made it cheaper and easier to produce shale oil and gas here. Oil companies like Exxon have already been making big investments in their refining and chemical operations to take advantage.
And as Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson at the Washington Post pointed out, the investment only comes to 10 percent of Exxon’s current spending, which would have likely increased anyway with recent oil price increases. “There is nothing new or newsworthy here,” Pavel Molchanov, an energy analyst with Raymond James, told the Post.
Trump’s decision to capitalize on Exxon’s announcement follows an incredibly familiar playbook, however. He’s taken credit for recent announcements about new jobs at Fiat-Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Sprint, and Walmart, yet none of these can be directly attributed to his administration and instead were all mostly in the works before his election.
The one place where he can take credit is persuading the air conditioning and heating manufacturer Carrier to keep some jobs in the United States instead of shifting them to Mexico. But the company will only retain 800, while its parent company will still move 1,300, including 600 from Carrier itself.