Toxic Dumping, Burma Pipeline, and Drug Bribery Scandal Make Chevron Stand Out for All the Wrong Reasons
Amazon Defense Coalition
26 November 2008 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
Washington, DC – Chevron has been named one of the top ten worst corporations in the world for its refusal to take responsibility for dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon and its close relationship to the brutal Burmese military regime, among other human rights and corporate governance problems.
Multinational Monitor magazine, published in the nation's capital, has featured "The Top Ten Worst Corporations" annually since 1992. According to Richard Weissman, the editor of Multinational Monitor, to get on the list, a company must excel at "corporate crime, negligence and dastardly behavior."
The dishonor comes at a sensitive time for Chevron, which is spending tens of millions of dollars on a national advertising campaign to tout a "green" image that is increasingly at odds with the company's on-the-ground practices. The company is also on trial in federal court in San Francisco for paying Nigerian soldiers who killed two local protestors who had occupied a Chevron oil platform.
Citing Chevron as a big "winner" on the notorious list, Weissman noted the oil giant's failure to deal with legacy issues created by its purchase in 2001 of Texaco (which created the environmental catastrophe in Ecuador) and purchase in 2005 of Unocal (which was a shareholder in the pipeline project in Burma). In reference to Texaco and Unocal, Weissman wrote:
"[Chevron] was happy to absorb their revenue streams. It has been less willing to take responsibility for ecological and human rights abuses perpetrated by these companies."
Noting Chevron's close relationship with the repressive military regime in Burma, the report blasted the company for sitting "idly by" while the Burmese army "violently suppressed" political protests led by Buddhist monks. Chevron runs a natural gas pipeline in that country that generates $1 billion annually for the clique of ruling generals.
The report also highlighted Chevron's "culture of ethical failure … and substance abuse and promiscuity" unveiled in a recent Department of Interior report. Chevron employees were found to have given cocaine and sex to federal workers for a greater share of royalties generated by oil and gas drilling in Alaska.
Chevron faces a lawsuit in Ecuador over what experts call the "Amazon Chernobyl." Texaco is accused of dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into Amazon waterways when it operated an oil concession from 1964 to 1990, decimating six indigenous groups and causing an outbreak of cancer and miscarriages.
Tens of thousands of rainforest dwellers initially filed suit against the company in 1993 in the US, but the case shifted to Ecuador after Texaco praised Ecuador's court system as better able to handle the dispute. Now that the evidence is in and Chevron faces a $16.3 billion adverse judgment, the company's lawyers now argue that the courts in Ecuador suddenly have become unfair.
The report wrote: "Having argued vociferously that Ecuadorian courts were fair and impartial, Chevron is now unhappy with how the litigation has proceeded in that country. So unhappy, in fact, that it is lobbying the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to impose trade sanctions on Ecuador if the Ecuadorian government does not make the case go away."
The report also noted a comment by an unnamed Chevron lobbyist to Newsweek who, in reference to the Ecuador lawsuit, said: "We can't let little countries screw around with big companies like this – companies that have made big investments around the world."
Although not mentioned in the report, Chevron is now facing added criticism for hiring William J. Haynes as deputy general counsel. As the chief lawyer at the Pentagon under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Haynes singed off on water boarding and other harsh interrogation techniques and is now the subject of a possible prosecution in Germany as an international war criminal.
Haynes was hired by Charles James, Chevron's General Counsel and also a former Bush Administration official. James is considered the architect of Chevron's legal response to its disastrous human rights problems.