Chevron in Ecuador

The archive of the Clean Up Ecuador campaign website

Chevron General Counsel Misleads Public in Desperate Defense of $27 Billion Ecuador Environmental Disaster

Chevron's Hewitt Pate Issues False Statements Ahead of Wednesday Shareholder Meeting

Amazon Defense Coalition

Amazon Defense Coalition
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109

Houston, TX – Chevron's chief lawyer, Hewitt Pate, is putting out false statements to lay the groundwork for the oil giant to avoid paying a potential $27.3 billion judgment for contaminating the Ecuadorian rainforest ahead of the annual shareholder meeting Wednesday, representatives of the indigenous and farmer communities suing Chevron said today.

The quantity of oil waste dumped by Chevron in Ecuador's Amazon from 1964 to 1990 far exceeds the size of the tragic BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, according to experts. Unlike the Gulf spill, which was an accident, Chevron's disaster in Ecuador was the result of deliberate production decisions designed to cut costs over a period of two decades, according to the lawsuit.

"Chevron's charges are old news designed to distract shareholders from the obvious mistakes management has made," said Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for the Amazon Defense Coalition, the group suing the company in Ecuador.

"Hewitt Pate's reckless and false statements are designed to cover up Chevron's responsibility for creating an environmental and public health catastrophe in the rainforest," added Hinton. "By his actions, Pate may be exposing Chevron to additional liability."

Among Chevron's inaccurate and misleading statements today:

  • Chevron misrepresentation: Plaintiffs inappropriately provided information to Cabrera.
    Fact: It was appropriate for the parties to furnish information to Cabrera. Cabrera solicited information from both parties, in accordance with his court-ordered mandate to provide the best possible estimate of the damage caused to the region. While the plaintiffs complied with Cabrera's information requests, Chevron chose not to participate.
  • Chevron misrepresentation: Chevron has uncovered "new evidence" that plaintiffs submitted documents to the court expert.
    Fact: Chevron has not "uncovered" any new evidence. Contrary to its statements, Cabrera requested information from both parties in compliance with various court orders. In fact, court records indicate Chevron knew all along that plaintiffs had submitted documents to Cabrera.
  • Chevron misrepresentation: Sections of Cabrera's report are tied directly to Plaintiffs.
    Fact: It is completely appropriate for experts in Ecuador to adopt materials submitted by the parties. Several court experts in the Ecuador trial have adopted Chevron's materials in their reports, while others have adopted materials provided by the plaintiffs. This is also standard practice in the U.S. and in courts around the world.

Chevron has admitted in trial to dumping 15.8 billion gallons of toxic "produced water" directly into the rainforest, abandoning more than 900 unlined waste pits filled with toxic oil sludge, and burning millions of cubic meters of poisonous gases with no controls. The company did this deliberately to cut costs, say the plaintiffs, producing a humanitarian and public relations catastrophe.

Since evidence at trial has indisputably shown Chevron is responsible for extensive contamination, the company has done everything within its power to attack the judicial process as its last hope of evading liability, said Hinton.

Chevron's liability in Ecuador has long been an overhang on the company's stock price and has dominated recent annual shareholder meetings. At the company's 2009 annual meeting, management suffered a major "no confidence" vote as three separate shareholder resolutions led to more than $37 billion in shares to upbraid the company over the Ecuador problem. Another shareholder vote rebuking Chevron's management over Ecuador is expected this Wednesday, said Hinton.

"Chevron's shareholders should not be fed more false statements by Pate or any other member of company management," said Hinton.