Trashing Chevron in Amazon Court

Judy Lloyd
President of Altamont Strategies

Chevron’s global headquarters is just a couple of miles down the road from where my family and I live. I pass it several times a week when driving through San Ramon.

Chevron is an important part of San Ramon, the 680 corridor, and the Bay Area community. From their refinery in Richmond to their headquarters in San Ramon, they employ many of my neighbors and give millions of dollars through corporate philanthropy to the needy and underprivileged each year. They are a well-respected corporate citizen and a good neighbor.

Not surprisingly, because they are a successful company, they are also a target for trial lawyers seeking to line their pockets through endless litigation.

Chevron’s annual shareholders meeting is coming up this Wednesday, and we will likely see a group of protesters at the front gates who will demonstrate. Their chants will be against environmental damage to the Ecuadorian rainforest and the media will respond as they usually do to yet another “protest” in the Bay Area.

A little research that is available over the Internet states that a group of American trial lawyers may have formed an alliance with the radical government of Ecuador to cover up the country’s less than perfect environmental record. These lawyers stand to win hefty payouts if their lawsuit is successful against Chevron, so why not take the case?

Chevron was a minority partner with Ecuador’s state-run oil company, but left in 1992. They cleaned up all of their former operating sites and received a full release of responsibility from the Ecuadorian government in 1998.

PetroEcuador, the state-run company, continued operations with limited clean up, increased their operations, and spilled millions of gallons of oil in more than 1,000 documented incidents since 1992. It appears that those lodging the charges continue to pollute the Amazon and continue to go after Chevron in an effort to divert attention from what is, in fact, their responsibility.

The case is currently moving through the judicial system in Ecuador. A judge, whose courtroom sits atop a strip mall in the Amazon, will be deciding whether to find Chevron responsible for $27 billion in damages. A decision in the case is imminent.

A Wall Street Journal editorial says that the trial lawyers are going “where the money is” and call it an “Amazonian swindle.” This website, http://www.chevron.com/ecuador, gives more information on Chevron’s side of the story. I’d encourage you to view the news video that is available on the site.

With all the news about environmental activism, our carbon footprint, and being energy independent, it’s easy to see which side the mainstream media will likely be on. Just another day in the protest capital that is the Bay Area, I suppose.

It remains politically correct to favorably cover frivolous lawsuits and environmental activism and not politically correct to cover an American company with a good record.

Tomorrow we’ll see how the media covers the story of the protestors at the company down the street. Let’s hope they do their homework and tell a balanced story.

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