Friday, February 25, 2011

Video: oil worker talking about Chevron's operation in Ecuador

Chevron dumped over 16 billion gallons of wastewater polluting rivers and streams in the Ecuadorian rainforest. It is horrible especially since Chevron knew how harmful the toxins were, but what makes it even worse is the fact that Chevron had a safer system designed but chose NOT to use it in order to save money.

Watch this unbelievable video of an oil worker talking about Chevron instructing the employees to drain the chemicals straight into the environment.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chevron & The Koch Brothers

Chevron’s campaign to defame the Ecuadorians suing the company for oil contamination is starting to sound a lot like the attacks by the arch-conservative Koch Brothers, the billionaires who have financed campaigns against liberal groups, like Common Cause. This blog by Carl Pope, Chairman of the Sierra Club makes that clear. I’m not surprised that Chevron is following the Koch Brothers’ playbook — the company’s general counsel, Hew Pate, and the former general counsel, Charles James, worked for the Justice Department under George Bush and with the lawyers who wrote the torture memos. What a resume these guys have!

A Gang of Thieves -- Without Honor or Humor

Carl Pope
Chairman, Sierra Club
Posted: February 16, 2011 01:47 PM

San Francisco -- That's the thought that comes to mind this week, watching the behavior of Big Oil. In Ecuador, a Court found that Chevron owes local communities $8 billion for damages left behind from an oil drilling business Chevron inherited when it took over Texaco. Chevron's response was not that the damages hadn't been done, but that the Ecuadoran decision was "illegitimate" and that the company simply wouldn't pay its debts. (Does this remind you of Exxon-Mobile around the Valdez decisions? It would be nice if the oil industry was satisfied to be the world's richest, but at least paid its bills.)

Of course, Chevron's Ecuadoran bill is more than matched by the amount of direct subsidies Big Oil draws from American taxpayers. The Obama Administration, in its proposed new budget, thinks that there are probably better ways to spend taxpayer dollars, and has proposed eliminating $54 billion of these subsidies, including $10 billion that flows from the U.S. Treasury to such governments as Saudi Arabia. (You might not have known that oil producers are, in fact, one of the major recipients of this form of foreign aid. Big Oil pays the Saudis, and the Treasury reimburses Big Oil.) The new Tea Party-influenced Republican leadership in Congress doesn't seem to agree: the Defense Department, the nuclear industry, and Big Oil are virtually the only items in the federal budget protected from proposed slash-and-burn budget cuts.

If you are running this kind of racket, it is always good to have friends in high places, and the oil industry is making sure that politicians remain in its hock. The billionaire Koch Brothers announced that in 2012 they plan to raise $88 million to purchase influence in Washington. When Common Cause organized a protest at the secret Palm Springs gathering the brothers host, conservatives yelled "foul" and began organizing dirty tricks against Common Cause. This is classic Koch style; they've also brought a lawsuit against pranksters who sent out a press release last December saying the brothers had seen the light and would no longer fund global warming denial groups. The lawsuit claimed that the spoof press release's authors were "guilty of trademark infringement, cybersquatting, unfair competition, and violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act," a criminal statute that penalizes those who hack into protected governmental and private computer systems.

It's hard to take such a lawsuit seriously. But the Koch Brothers are serious. Anyone who shines a light on their secretive effort to take over the U.S. government can expect this kind of bullying. And while Big Oil is too restrained to carry on these kinds of shenanigans here in the U.S., the Chevron response in Ecuador shows their true face.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chevron Found Guilty of Contaminating Ecuadorian Rain Forest

On Monday an Ecuadorian judge ordered Chevron to pay $8.9 billion to clean up 16 billion gallons of toxic waste that Chevron dumped into the rain forest in Ecuador.

For many years Chevron has been pointing fingers at others and trying to manipulate its way out of the responsibility for the toxic mess but it all came to nothing when faced with overwhelming evidence that plaintiffs submitted to the court showing Chevron not only contaminated the rain forest but it did it knowingly.

Chevron built a substandard system and continued to use it knowing it’s leaking toxins into the ground. In a 1980 letter a Texaco official said that building a safer system would be too expensive and recommended using the faulty one. Chevron took that advice and continued putting toxic byproduct of oil drilling into 900 unlined and unprotected pits for many years.

The judgment is great news for the Ecuadorians suffering from the contamination and anyone who cares about the environment. It is time for a proper clean up of those toxic oil pits, not just throwing dirt on top of them like Chevron did.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chevron Tries To Silence The Critics Again

Chevron has filed a racketeering lawsuit against the named Ecuadorians who are suing Chevron for the contamination in the Amazon . This is not only another desperate attempt to run away from what could be a costly judgment for them in Ecuador, but also an example of Chevron’s bullying of anyone who dares to speak up against them. Just how low will Chevron go? It files criminal charges against the very people suffering from the company’s shoddy drilling practices that led to the destruction of their land and culture and, in thousands of cases, the death and illness of people living near Chevron’s former oil sites. This is unbelievable.

Chevron’s lawsuit was filed under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations act which was designed to prosecute the Mafia. I read about it in this San Francisco Chronicle article. It quotes Sean Hecht, executive director of the Environmental Law Center at UCLA. saying that Chevron’s suit looks more like a form of SLAPP, a strategic lawsuit that seeks to essentially silence people from protesting.

"I can't judge this as a SLAPP suit, but it looks like it has some of the hallmarks," Hecht said . "It's trying to convince someone to throw in the towel."

As the evidence against Chevron mounts up, Chevron is now trying to force the Ecuadorians to back away. I’m betting they are going nowhere. Also, remember that Chevron had five protestors arrested last year at its shareholder meeting and prevented 20 people, many from foreign countries, including Ecuador, from attending the meeting, even though they had legitimate proxies.