Chevron found guilty! But will they pay?

  • Published on February 16th, 2011

chevron guiltyAfter 18 years of arduous legal battles, Chevron has finally been found guilty. An Ecuadoran court ruled that oil operations had led to massive contamination in the Amazon rainforest, and Chevron is responsible.

But the giant oil company continues to play games to avoid paying to clean up its mess. The New York Times notes this could become the most expensive environmental verdict of all time, and Chevron is desperate to avoid paying.

The Ecuadorian court found Chevron “guilty of polluting the Amazon with over 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste,” Mike Gaworecki, an online campaigner for RAN and Change Chevron, told “Chevron has been ordered to pay $8 billion to clean up its oil contamination and restore human rights for the 30,000 affected peoples. This is an unprecedented moment for corporate accountability.”

In further evidence of what a class act Chevron is, they are now claiming the whole thing was a fraud, and poor Chevron is the innocent victim:

“The Ecuadorian court’s judgment is illegitimate and unenforceable.  It is the product of fraud and is contrary to the legitimate scientific evidence.  Chevron will appeal this decision in Ecuador and intends to see that justice prevails.

“United States and international tribunals already have taken steps to bar enforcement of the Ecuadorian ruling.  Chevron does not believe that today’s judgment is enforceable in any court that observes the rule of law.

“Chevron intends to see that the perpetrators of this fraud are held accountable for their misconduct.”

As we reported Monday, Chevron has countersued the indigenous tribespeople who suffered from their toxic pollution. Using the RICO statute normally used against organized crime, Chevron is claiming a ciminal conspiracy of the natives and their lawyers to extort money out of the poor little multinational conglomerate.

“Who’s the real gangster,” asks Rebecca Tarbonnon of the Rainforest Action Network. “That’s right — Chevron is accusing a remote rainforest community in the Amazon of racketeering… Quick straw poll: between the multi-billion dollar oil company and the Indigenous rainforest community in Ecuador, who do you think has more in common with a gangster?”

Writing at Huffington Post, Mitch Anderson notes that this case has much wider implications than just a one-time payout:

…Chevron’s legal and public relations strategy with respect to Ecuador, has been motivated not only by a desire to avoid a massive multi-billion payout, but also by the broader implications this case has for the future of the global extractives industry. More to the point, Chevron’s scorched earth tactics have been designed to delay and disrupt the outcome of the long-running environmental trial in Ecuador, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to demonstrate clearly to communities around the world that the pursuit of justice against multinational corporations is futile.

But now the judgment is in. Chevron has been found guilty of massive environmental crimes in the Amazon. The San Ramon based oil giant has been ordered to pay a multi-billion dollar judgment.

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About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.