Pages tagged "contamination"


Bank of America and Drummond Coal in Colombia

This blog post has been updated.

This month, Rainforest Action Network and three allies testified at Bank of America's annual shareholder meeting, urging them to drop coal, to stop profiting from environmental destruction and human rights abuses. We're posting the statements of our three allies. Add your voice by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change

My name is Santiago Piñeros. I was born in Bogotá, Colombia, and I work with Pensamiento y Acción Social (Thought and Social Action), an NGO that assists communities affected by large-scale mining in the center of the Cesar region in Colombia. I have had the opportunity to see how Drummond LTD operates in these areas, a multinational company in which Bank of America invests millions of dollars to develop its extractive coal and gas business.

Three towns located in the middle of the Cesar region—El Hatillo, community we assist, Plan Bonito, and Boquerón, communities we follow up—have to be resettled by Drummond, Glencore-Xstrata and a Goldman Sachs mining company. These resettlements were ordered by the Colombian government, due to the high levels of air pollution and dust from the coal mines. These communities should have been relocated two years ago because of the dangers that coal ash poses to people's health, including respiratory diseases, such as lung cancer, skin and ocular diseases. Thus, Drummond is currently co responsible for three involuntary resettlement processes due to air pollution in El Cesar Region.1 These communities must be resettled quickly, and Drummond's investors, including Bank of America, need to make sure this happens.

Drummond directly contaminates groundwater and rivers where these communities make their livelihoods.2 Activities such as fishing, hunting, territorial and cultural relations with the environment have deteriorated and are often no longer possible due to the contamination. For communities that rely on fishing and hunting for survival, the destruction of the environment means the destruction of the community.3 For these facts, the environmental damages in this region become a violation of the human rights of these communities and so creates an obligation for its investors—you—to commit to recognize the value of the human rights of these poor rural communities, communities that are threatened with simply disappearing. Bank of America has an obligation to protect these communities.

Bank of America invests today in a company that does not respect environmental standards. According to the environmental authorities Drummond recently spilled around 1,800 tons of coal into the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Colombia. This disaster happened because Drummond chose not to implement required changes to the system of directly loading coal at port, which would have prevented these accidents.4 Pollution levels at Drummond coal mines exceed the levels permitted by law in Colombia, and they are steadily increasing.5 The pollution is affecting human health. Still, Drummond only responds to sanctions if they impact the company's ability to export coal.

Bank of America finances Drummond's coal operation and so is co responsible for Drummond, a company that operates with no due diligence regarding human, economic and cultural rights. According to the most recent study of the Contraloría General, Drummond's operations, and thus Bank of America's investments, do not guarantee a healthy life and environment, these operations only make a profit from our natural resources.6 Who holds the accounts where these profits are stashed? Bank of America.

Are these environmental and human rights abuses something you recognize? What responsibility do you have for these events? Your money is being used to fund mining operations that do not represent social, environmental and economic benefits for the communities living in the surroundings of the mines. In fact, the levels of unsatisfied basic necessities in these communities increase as sanctions and fines while the resettlements do not seem to advance.

Sources

1. Resolution No. 9070 of 2010 and Resolution No. 1525 of 2010 from the Colombian Ministry of Environment, Housing and Development (MAVDT).
2. Contraloría General de la Nación. Minería en Colombia I: Derechos, políticas públicas y gobernanza. // Minería en Colombia II: Institucionalidad y territorio, paradojas y conflictos. 2013.
3. Resolution No. 54 of 2008 from the Defensoría del Pueblo de Colombia.
4. Resolution No. 0123 of 2013 and Resolution No. 001 of 2014 from the National Authority of Environmental Licenses (ANLA).
5. Resolution No. 9070 of 2010 and Resolution No. 1525 of 2010 from the Colombian Ministry of Environment, Housing and Development (MAVDT).
6. Contraloría General de la Nación. Minería en Colombia I: Derechos, políticas públicas y gobernanza. // Minería en Colombia II: Institucionalidad y territorio, paradojas y conflictos. 2013.


5 Ways Our Network Is Saving the Planet

nokxl sf vigilDear friends, Early in the New Year, I received a text concerning my two nieces that read, “We are all safe but leaving town—state of Emergency declared in Charleston as a result of coal chemical spilled into river.” Although I’m very aware of the impacts coal has on the health of people and planet, the reality of it hitting so close to home has me more fired up than ever about the work Rainforest Action Network has to do this year. So far the chemical spill in West Virginia is a story about a completely preventable accident, but it’s my belief that it will also be a story of organizing, resisting corporate control and bringing the end of coal even closer. It was a spill that happened just weeks before the release of the State Department’s final environmental assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline which gives President Obama all the room he needs to prevent the disasters that we will see should he approve the Keystone XL pipeline. I believe in my core that the only way we can tackle the challenges we face is by fully leveraging our entire network. This year, I’m committed and excited to share RAN’s thinking, listen to your input and find ways for you to engage more deeply in our work. In 2014 we will work harder than ever to keep fossil fuels in the ground, forests standing and communities thriving. This year we are resolved to focus on five key areas that are vital for our planet: 1) Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline We will not accept the development of a pipeline that threatens to lock in an estimated one billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifetime. Last year, RAN teamed up with CREDO and The Other 98% to launch the “Pledge of Resistance,” making clear their opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. To date, over 76,000 people have pledged to take peaceful direct action in their communities to resist the Keystone XL pipeline, and RAN has helped to train and build a community of hundreds of action leaders across the country.  And it doesn’t end with President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. At RAN we believe this level of engagement must be the new norm for our movement to ensure that not only do we stop this project, but that we are prepared to stop dirty energy projects that would follow. 2)   Remove Conflict Palm Oil from our Food In rainforests half a world away, orangutans are making their last stand against extinction — scientists believe that they could be extinct in the wild in our lifetime. But the threat to their survival lies much closer to home. You’ll find it hidden in the snack food aisle of your local grocery store — and in your shopping cart. To grow cheap palm oil, America’s snack food brands are driving the last wild orangutans to extinction, enslaving children and destroying rainforests that are critical to maintaining a stable climate. As thoughtful consumers, we have the power to make them listen. Our strategy is working. This year we will continue negotiating with consumer brand companies to develop or improve palm oil procurement policies for 100% traceable and responsible palm oil and will continue to push for improvements from the largest U.S importer of palm oil, Cargill. Every time we sign a petition or sticker foods that contain Conflict Palm Oil, we bring more attention to this incredibly important issue, and we give more power to our movement. 3)   Challenge Bank of America to Stop Financing Climate Change. The five largest American banks are among the most significant global underwriters of the coal industry, and therefore global climate change emissions. In spite of the human and environmental costs of coal as well as the growing financial risks associated with investments in the coal industry, Bank of America alone has invested billions and maintained its position as the largest funder of coal. Bank of America and other U.S. banks have been slow to address this risk, lagging behind their European counterparts. We will work to pressure banks to account for their financed emissions by adopting climate policies at least as strong as the European banks. This autumn, we worked with students on 35 campuses to challenge Bank of America graduate recruitment programs. Hundreds of students showed up at 65 information sessions and interviews to declare, “We won’t work for climate chaos.” Now that we have the bank’s attention, we’re working to improve its policies and move funding away from climate-destroying enterprises. 4)   End the Use of Paper Made from Rainforests Last year, one of the largest paper companies in the world, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) released its rainforest protection commitments, a major first step for a company that has a history of destructive practices when it comes to rainforests and human rights. Over the past year, RAN has helped to strengthen APP’s commitments while working with groups on the ground to make sure that implementation is happening in the forest. While a policy on paper is an important step, we are working to make sure that the bulldozers remain idle and communities are given a voice in decisions about their lands. Until APP implements changes that can guarantee rainforests and communities are protected, we will use our market leverage to ensure large corporate customers understand that it is too soon to resume business with APP. 5)   Provide Small Grants to Local Communities Fighting for the Planet Over the past ten years, RAN’s Small Grants program has distributed more than a million dollars to Indigenous-led and local grassroots organizations to help secure protection for millions of acres of traditional territory in forests around the world and to help defend their communities and their environment from the fossil fuel industry. In 2014 we hope to expand our Small Grants program and increase the amount of money going directly to communities. This year our goal is to distribute $173,000 to communities fighting to defend our planet. At RAN we know we need to set ever-more audacious goals if we’re going to advocate for forests, the climate and communities. Which is why I’m asking you to join us on our ambitious journey into 2014, because we can’t accomplish any of these things without your support.  Visit our Take Action page to learn more about how you can be a part of this important movement. You are the Network that gives me strength to sit across the table from CEOs of corporate giants like Bank of America and Cargill and demand more than modest or incremental changes. This is the time for bold action, and I’m drawing you closer because you’re crucial to us accomplishing what is necessary for forests, people and planet. Now that I’ve shared what I want to fight for in 2014, I’d like to ask you to share what you are committed to doing for people and planet this year. Tweet me your ideas at @lrallen. I couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities that lie ahead of us this year, and am honored to be on this journey with you. For people and planet in 2014, Lindsey

Why You Should Give A Sh*t That Water In West Virginia Is Contaminated

Lindsey and nieces in West VirginiaAs I wrote last week, my two nieces live in Charleston, WV. Although their water has now been cleared as “safe,” they continue to have no clean water to drink. So, as you can imagine, I’m pissed. But there are a few reasons why I’m pissed. And it didn’t start with the unbelievable quote from West Virginia's Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who said, "I'm not going to say absolutely, 100 percent that everything is safe. But what I can say is if you do not feel comfortable, don't use it." It was frustrating to see most major media outlets perpetuate the illusion that, once water was deemed safe by officials, things could return to normal—contradicting actual residents who continued to find the chemicals in their tap water despite repeatedly flushing their pipes. (Send a letter to your local newspaper and demand they tell the full story!) It was frustrating to realize that a lack of regulations helped create this disaster, which was completely preventable. However, I’m most pissed that this is just one obvious example of the true price we pay for our dependence on coal. Unfortunately, coal-related water contamination in Appalachia is not a new story or a unique occurrence. In the rural hollers of West Virginia, dozens of communities have already had their water poisoned, because toxic waste from mountaintop removal coal mining has seeped into aquifers, irreversibly ruining wells that people have used for generations. A 2012 study found that 14 counties in West Virginia had water that did not meet safe drinking water standards. In counties where mining occurred, water was seven times worse than in counties without mining. In addition, contamination of watersheds in West Virginia is part of the reason why so many people depend on a single water source. Runaway coal contamination is possible because of a lack of regulations to ensure safe drinking water and because, for a century, the coal industry’s profit margin has been put ahead of people—and our water. When we look more broadly at health impacts, a recent Harvard study estimated the annual health expenses associated with coal over its entire lifecycle cost the U.S. $500 billion a year and lead to more than 13,000 premature deaths. 1622206_10152183068710960_547899835_nNational headlines last week shone a rare public light on one of the most severe and under-reported American environmental crises of our times. The tragic water crisis still underway in West Virginia, caused by a massive coal chemical spill that poisoned water supplies for at least 300,000 people, is just another cry from the canary telling us that coal is not a solution for our energy needs. The emergency water shut-off last week spanned nine counties and shut down the state’s capital city for four days. But most disturbing is that this recent tragedy was both predictable and preventable. Sadly, it offers a somber preview for what we can expect to see more of in the future if major changes are not finally made immediately. Rainforest Action Network is no stranger to the many impacts of coal on the communities in West Virginia. We have been working to defend the people, forests and watersheds in Central Appalachia for years. But this last summer, the issue became deeply personal for me. I travel to WV not only to visit family, but also to see firsthand the impacts of one of the most extreme coal extraction methods on the planet, where entire mountaintops are blown off to expose coal seams below. The resulting toxic waste is then dumped into neighboring valleys—irreversibly destroying the function of the local watershed. While in Appalachia last summer, I felt the Earth shudder under my feet as mountains nearby were being blown up just a short distance from the home of our local host, Paul Corbit Brown of Pax, WV. Paul is a seventh-generation West Virginian whose home is adjacent to an active mountaintop removal coal mining site. His family has been forced to deal with the deadly impacts of reckless coal extraction for decades. Paul made it clear to me that while the government of West Virginia has bent over backwards for the coal industry in his state, it has done little to nothing to protect the region’s people, who have suffered its devastating consequences. While visiting, I literally saw streams flowing bright orange from upstream coal mining contamination, and witnessed the emergency health crises people face every day: high cancer rates, cases of life-threatening “black lung” disease and limited access to clean water. Earlier this month, just after news of the spill broke, Paul explained that the chemical that leaked has been used to process coal for a long time in West Virginia. In fact, its effluent has been stored in more than 100 unlined pits and been injected into abandoned mines that now contaminate the area’s aquifers, forcing people to abandon wells that once provided safe drinking water. (Some former West Virginia coal miners have come forward to say the same thing.) The people in Appalachia have been forced to endure the toxic impacts of the coal industry for far too long already. This incident cannot be seen as an isolated event. Every time we flick on the switch from coal energy, we should be reminded about the true cost of coal, a burden that people at the point of extraction, like West Virginia, and at the point of burning, such as neighborhoods in the shadow of coal-fired power plants, feel disproportionately. The numbers are staggering. U.S. $500 billion a year in health care costs foisted on us by a coal industry unwilling to pay for the impacts of its business operations? Are more than 13,000 premature deaths the price we should have to pay for coal industry profits? ”It’s tragic that it takes an event like this to awaken us to reality,” said my friend Paul. “No industry should have the right to profit at the expense of another human being's life. I remind you: There cannot be a healthy economy without clean water.” As this crisis in West Virginia has brought the impacts of extreme coal extraction to our collective attention, let us now take the bold steps needed to move away from dangerous coal energy altogether, and move instead toward safer, cleaner energy choices. The next time I talk to my nieces about the future, instead of just discussing basic regulation that will better prevent coal chemicals from leaking into major water supplies, I’d rather discuss the transition away from coal so that climate change, water contamination and health problems can be prevented. Let’s not treat the symptom—let’s support the cure. If you are as pissed as I am please consider joining the over 500 people who have taken action by sending a letter to their local newspaper requesting they cover the full story on coal impacts on our water and beyond.

Dump Now, Pay Later: Coal Risk Update on Coal Ash

LBR photo three, from air, Oct 23 2011 Each year, the U.S. coal-fired power plant fleet produces over 130 million tons of coal ash. And while this ash frequently contains arsenic, lead, mercury, and other toxic chemicals that threaten human health, it is less regulated than your household trash. For decades, power plants have disposed of coal ash in over 2,000 landfills and holding ponds around the country. These ponds and landfills can leach contaminants into groundwater and have even ruptured without warning, causing catastrophic ash spills. Today, RAN published a new Coal Risk Update which looks at the growing legal, regulatory, and financial risks facing electric power producers from the disposal of coal ash in landfills and holding ponds. Although coal ash is not currently regulated on the federal level, people living near coal ash ponds and landfills have filed several lawsuits that have forced power plant operators to clean up groundwater contamination from coal ash. This January, a major plaintiff litigation firm filed several lawsuits against the Southern Company, alleging that it engaged in racketeering, battery, fraud, and negligence by failing to put a lining on its 750-acre coal ash pond. For U.S. electric power producers, coal ash ponds and landfills are likely to cause environmental compliance and legal headaches for decades to come. While coal ash is not currently regulated on the federal level, forthcoming EPA regulations are likely to force power plants to close coal ash ponds that lack a bottom lining and invest in costly ash handling upgrades at power plants. Using EPA disclosures and data obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice through a Freedom of Information Act request, we were able to rank U.S. electric power producers by their exposure to coal ash pond failure risk and groundwater contamination risk: top 5 grid To date, the investor-owned electric power producers that rank highly on these lists have disclosed very little information about how they are managing coal ash-related risks. At companies that lack plans for closing or remediating ash ponds and landfills, impacted communities will bear the costs of ongoing contamination and the risks of catastrophic pond failures. This lack of transparency also leaves investors in these companies—who are ultimately on the hook for legal battles and coal ash cleanup projects—in the dark about coal ash-related risks.   (Image of the Little Blue Run coal ash pond courtesy Robert Donnan/Environmental Integrity Project)

The Struggle For Justice In The Amazon Spans Generations

[caption id="attachment_13824" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="The three members of the Ecuadorean delegation outside Chevron's shareholder meeting on May 25th (in foreground, from left): Servio Curipoma, Humberto Piaguaje, Carmen Zambrano."]Ecuadorean delegation[/caption] Over the past few weeks we’ve told you a lot about the courageous Ecuadoreans who traveled to America to take their calls for justice directly to Chevron’s management and board at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. But it’s important to note that the members of the Ecuadorean delegation were only the latest generation battling the oil company that has devastated their home in the Ecuadorean Amazon, lest we lose sight of the fact that the struggle for justice in the Amazon has spanned generations. It takes an incredible amount of resolve and courage for forest-dwelling peoples and farmers to stand up to one of the largest multinational companies on Earth and prevail. But that’s just what Humberto Piaguaje and the rest of the Ecuadorean plaintiffs did when the verdict came down in February finding Chevron guilty of its pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon and ordering the company to pay $18 billion to clean it up. Humberto’s uncle, Elias Piaguaje, helped pave the road to this historic victory when, in 1993, he traveled from Ecuador to New York to represent the Secoya people of the Ecuadorean Amazon. Elias joined representatives of other indigenous tribes and campesino communities to file a landmark lawsuit demanding that Texaco — which Chevron bought in 2001 — clean up the oil contamination that had devastated the Secoya people's rainforest home. Now Humberto, himself a leader of the Secoya people, followed in his uncle’s footsteps and traveled to New York prior to coming to California for the shareholder meeting. Check out this video about the journey: [youtube LNQxc6sSvo4 550] Humberto was joined in the delegation by Carmen Zambrano and Servio Curipoma. Both were inspiring to work with, but I especially can’t stop thinking about Servio’s incredibly moving speech outside of Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting. Servio lost both of his parents to cancer caused by Chevron's oil contamination: His mother succumbed to uterine cancer, and his father died of stomach cancer. You can read an interview with Servio’s mother, Rosana Sisalima, who took part in a project to tell the stories of people affected by Chevron’s oil pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Rosana passed away in May 2006, but Servio is honoring the memories of his mother and father by carrying on their fight. [youtube KBFInCkFi70 550] Like Servio, we must be unwavering in our resolve to hold Chevron accountable. As an American, I think it’s incredibly important that we hold this American company accountable for its crimes in foreign countries. When BP, a UK-based company, came to our country and devastated the Gulf Coast ecosystem, the Obama Administration forced the company to set aside $20 billion to compensate the victims of the oil spill. We should expect no less from an American company that went down to Ecuador and did the same thing — the fact that Chevron/Texaco deliberately dumped over 18 billion gallons of oil pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon makes it all the more important to hold the company responsible. [youtube e5b6L8qliKs 550] Not one more generation of Ecuadoreans should have to live with Chevron’s oil pollution and the cancer, birth defects, and other diseases and health problems that are a direct result. Enough is enough.

Help Expose Chevron’s Human Rights Hitmen

Chevron's Human Rights HitmenChevron's latest bullying legal tactic is a RICO suit filed in a U.S. federal court against the Indigenous and rural Ecuadoreans who are attempting to force the company to clean up its billions of gallons of toxic oil waste in the Amazon. One of the plaintiffs' lawyers in Ecuador, Juan Pablo Sáenz, filed a declaration yesterday detailing the long history of abusive tactics Chevron has employed, arguing that Chevron's counter-charges against the plaintiffs rest on Chevron's "jaundiced worldview," which holds that a corporate heavyweight like Chevron cannot be held accountable by a group of poor Indigenous and rural people whose power and influence pale in comparison to the Big Oil behemoth's. The declaration is a compelling — and galling — read. The depths Chevron has sunk to with its duplicitous maneuvering is staggering. Ever wonder how the company executes all these shady tactics? Chevron has assembled a crack team of Human Rights Hitmen to employ any dirty trick, intimidation tactic, and shady legal maneuver conceivable to help the company avoid cleaning up its mess in Ecuador. We can’t let them get away with it — we need you to help us expose Chevron’s Human Rights Hitmen. We’ve created a mini-site detailing the work they’re doing to deny human rights to the plaintiffs in Ecuador. Check out the site and then help us get the word out. There are buttons on the site so you can share. Most importantly, you can help us make sure journalists and anyone else looking into the environmental lawsuit in Ecuador find out the truth by linking to the Human Rights Hitmen on your blog, your website, or anywhere else you can, building the search ranking for our site. We need to make sure that when anyone looks into this case, they get the complete version, not Chevron’s spin. So when you post links, use keywords like “Chevron,” “Human Rights,” “Ecuador,” “lawsuit,” “oil,” “rainforest,” and anything else people are likely to use as search terms when looking for more information on the landmark environmental lawsuit in Ecuador. Chevron is working really hard to push a narrative that portrays itself as the victim, and the RICO suit is just the latest attempt to push this bogus version of events. But there is a reason Chevron was found guilty: Because Chevron is guilty. If anyone is trying to defraud the courts and the public, it’s Chevron. These Human Rights Hitmen are the people pushing Chevron's self-serving narrative on the public and trying to enforce it in the courts. Let’s all shine a bright light on their misdeeds. Large, wealthy corporations like Chevron think they can get away with poisoning communities in their reckless pursuit of profits. The thing is, in many cases they can, thanks to dirty tricks operatives like Diego Borja, morally-bankrupt lawyers like Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Andrea E. Neuman and Randy M. Mastro, corporate spymasters like Kroll Inc.’s Sam Anson, and of course, Chevron’s own in-house counsel — none other than R. Hewitt Pate, a former Bush Administration lawyer who was once described as “Chevron’s Karl Rove.” Help us expose these Human Rights Hitmen and fight for justice for the thousands of rainforest dwellers who are still sick and dying from Chevron’s oil pollution.

Chevron Was Found Guilty Because Chevron Is Guilty

[caption id="attachment_11560" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Click image for more pics from the event outside Chevron HQ."]Chevron is Guilty: Delivery event at Chevron headquarters[/caption] Chevron is guilty of dumping a massive amount of oil pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon, and, as you may have heard, a judge has ordered the company to pay $8 billion to clean it up. But Chevron has vowed to appeal the decision, clearly intending to pull an Exxon Valdez and stall indefinitely, hoping never to pay its due. So the Change Chevron team got together with our friends and allies at Amazon Watch, Greenpeace, Global Exchange, and Communities for a Better Environment, headed down to Chevron’s HQ in San Ramon, CA, and delivered a message to the company: Chevron was found guilty because Chevron is guilty. Time to accept responsibility and clean up your oily mess in Ecuador! Check out pics from today's event below. Video coming soon. If you want to send your own message to Chevron, go to ChevronIsGuilty.org.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649


Chevron is Guilty: Ecuadoreans Prevail in Historic Environmental Lawsuit

[caption id="attachment_11539" align="alignleft" width="264" caption="Click this image to send Chevron CEO John Watson an email urging him to clean up his company's oily mess in Ecuador immediately."]Chevron guilty[/caption] After a long and often bitter 18-year struggle, the Indigenous and rural Ecuadoreans suing Chevron to force the company to clean up its oil contamination in the Amazon have prevailed. Earlier today, in a historic ruling, the court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador found Chevron guilty and ordered the company to pay $8 billion to clean up its mess in Ecuador. Write to Chevron CEO John Watson right now and urge him to finally see that justice is done in Ecuador by cleaning up his company’s oil pollution immediately. Chevron of course immediately fired off a statement claiming that the judgment was fraudulent and the company would appeal the decision. Enough is enough. The plaintiffs have withstood the impacts of Chevron’s oil pollution on their health and the local environment at the same time that they had to contend with Chevron’s bullying and abusive legal tactics. For nearly two decades, they’ve been living with Chevron’s attempts to deny them basic human rights and a clean and healthy environment. It’s time for Chevron to take responsibility for its oily mess. Chevron waged an unprecedented PR and legal campaign, but in the end the evidence overwhelmingly proved the company’s guilt. This is a historic moment. It’s one of the largest judgment against Big Oil ever awarded. The battle is won, but the war is far from over. More than ever, the people of Ecuador need us to stand with them. Over 1,400 Ecuadoreans have already died as a result of the contamination in the Amazon, and some 30,000 more are at risk. They don’t have time to wait for Chevron to continue trying to hide its guilt with legal maneuvering and PR campaigns. John Watson can put an end to the human rights and environmental abuses in Ecuador. Write to Watson now.

Ecuadorean Plaintiffs Reject Chevron’s Bullying

[caption id="attachment_11381" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Members of the Kichwa Indigenous community listen to their names being read from Chevron legal complaint."]Quichua plaintiffs[/caption] At this point, Chevron’s legal strategy in Ecuador has been described many ways: it's been called a “smear campaign,” it uses “scorched earth tactics,” it amounts to what you might call a “kitchen sink defense,” it adds “insult to injury” for the Ecuadorean plaintiffs. But the company’s latest maneuver is really the most egregious intimidation tactic we’ve seen yet — Chevron has given up on arguing on the basis of evidence altogether, and is just trying to bully its way out of its responsibility to clean up the Ecuadorean rainforest. I refer, of course, to the RICO lawsuit Chevron filed against the plaintiffs in Ecuador who filed the original lawsuit — the one Chevron is trying to distract all our attention from — to force the company to clean up its 18 billion gallons of toxic oil waste in the Ecuadorean Amazon. The video below is of several victims of Chevron's contamination learning that, of all things, they are now being sued by Chevron. These people are all from the Kichwa village of Rumipamba. (The video is all in Spanish and Kichwa, but there are English subtitles. Transcript below). [youtube dKoBo8nY5aY 550] Please help us spread this video. These are the people Chevron is trying to smear, people who have been injured and now insulted by Chevron. It’s time we all stand up to Big Oil — we can’t let companies like Chevron get away with poisoning this Kichwa community, or any community. Transcript of the video is as follows:
Speaker: Look brothers and sisters this document has come from the United States. This is the lawsuit they have filed against us, the plaintiffs. Here is everything they have sent from there. Here are our names, brothers and sisters, as you will see. So that you see that this is real, you’ll see our names here, we’re listed here. What we’re seeing are these names: Here is: Maria Aguinda Salazar, you’re named here too, sued by Texaco. Carlos Grefa Huatatoca, you’re being sued as well. Catalina Antonia Aguinda Salazar, you’re also being sued. Lidia Alexandra Aguinda Aguinda, being sued. Patricio Alberto Chimbo Yumbo, also being sued. Clide Ramiro Aguinda Aguinda, from what I’m reading here, also being sued. Luis Armando Chimbo Yumbo, Beatriz Mercedes Grefa Tanguila, also being sued. Brother Lucio Enrique Grefa Tanguila, also being sued, but he’s not here. Patricio Wilson Aguinda Aguinda, also being sued. These are our brothers and sisters from this region, from this area, from this community of Rumipamba. There are a whole lot of other people listed here but they are from different communities, from different regions who are also being sued. They also live in the region, in the affected area. So that’s what we’re seeing brothers and sisters... Now we have to stay alert so that we can fight this. All together in Kichwa: We reject this! We reject this! We reject this!

Chevron: Adding Insult to Injury, One Scam at a Time

[caption id="attachment_11201" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Victor Tanguila, one of the two dozen plaintiffs who gathered to repudiate Chevron's forgery claims and -- once again -- sign his support for a lawsuit against Chevron to demand clean up of Ecuador. "]Victor Tanguila[/caption] If you’ve been following the dramatic turns of the historic class action environmental lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador, then you’re aware of Chevron’s aggressive public relations and legal campaign to derail the case. Their latest antic, though, is as morally reprehensible as any I've seen. Chevron is claiming that some of the plaintiffs’ signatures on the document authorizing the class action lawsuit against the company were forged. What’s more, they hired a so-called “expert” to prove it — and then attempted to present this “evidence” to the court in Ecuador to declare the lawsuit null and void. Seriously, Chevron? Let’s take a step back for a moment and review some of the facts: You knowingly dumped billions of gallons of toxic oil waste in the middle of pristine Amazon rainforest, endangering the health and livelihoods of thousands of people. For the Indigenous residents, you've also threatened their very cultural survival. Then, when these people stand up for themselves and demand you clean up your mess, you perform a sham remediation that amounts to little more than a sprinkling of top soil on your oily mess, get some corrupt government officials to sign off on it (who are now, along with two of your scheming employees, facing a criminal indictment in Ecuador), and call it a day. Plaintiff signatureSo, not getting proper redress from you, these people turn around and file a lawsuit in the U.S., where your company is based. You fight tooth and nail to have the case moved to Ecuador, because you thought you’d win the case. As it turns out, however, because of the mountains of scientific evidence proving your guilt — much of which was collected by you, by the way — you realize you will likely lose the case. Meanwhile, during the eighteen years that the lawsuit has now been ongoing, people have died of oil-attributed cancers, women have miscarried, children have been born with developmental disabilities… And now, adding insult to injury, you claim the very victims you have harmed — the very heroes who have endured so much for so long — have lied and faked their fight for justice?!? Pablo Fajardo, the lead attorney on the case, said a wise thing some years back — he said it’s easier to tell the truth than to fabricate a web of lies. This is certainly advice you could have used, Chevron. Your web of lies is unraveling, and this desperate forgeries scandal you've concocted is evidence of that. To prove that Chevron's latest made-up controversy is completely bogus, some of the same people whose signatures Chevron claims were forged gathered yesterday at Lago 20, one of the hundreds of toxic oil waste pits abandoned by Chevron (then Texaco), to once again give their consent and — in front of a notary public, video cameras, and press — sign their names. The company’s response?  James Craig, one of Chevron’s human rights hitmen, called the event a “media circus.” Classy. The case for justice in Ecuador is in its final stage.  We’re counting down to a verdict. Last month Ecuadorean judge Nicolas Zambrano declared a close to the evidentiary phase of the trial, paving the way for both sides to present closing arguments and a final ruling in this historic case to finally be issued. The people of Ecuador need our support, now more than ever. They are standing strong because they recognize that justice in Ecuador will not only benefit them, but will have a rippling effect in the way multinational corporations are held accountable for their crimes. Their fight is our fight.

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