Chevron Board Under Fire Over Ecuador Disaster at Shareholders Meeting

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Shareholders Concerned about Mishandling of Ecuador Liability, Lack of Board Oversight
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Houston, TX – As a judgment looms in a monumental 17-year legal battle over oil contamination in Ecuador, affected communities and their allies are challenging Chevron’s Board of Directors to intervene in the company’s dead-end strategy of covering up its massive liability
With the recent BP spill in the gulf as a sobering backdrop, the ongoing trial over Chevron’s massive contamination of Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest region is once again casting a shadow over the company’s annual shareholders meeting.
“While Chevron’s management systematically deceives regulators, shareholders, and the public about its liability in Ecuador, the Board of Directors has been asleep at the wheel,” said Mitch Anderson, Corporate Campaigns Director for Amazon Watch. “This approach puts the company and shareholders at risk, while exacerbating the suffering of communities in the Amazon. This is a wake up call for the Board.”
Speaking in front of Chevron’s Houston headquarters Tuesday, Guillermo Grefa, an Indigenous leader from the Kichwa tribe, told media, supporters, and the public, “We must not allow Chevron to continue lying to us about its contamination in the Amazon.”
Grefa, along with another Ecuadorean community leader, 71-year-old Mariana Jimenez, traveled from their homes in the polluted Amazon rainforest of Ecuador to join a global coalition of community leaders in Houston to confront Chevron for its negative impact on their communities.
At the shareholder meeting on Wednesday, new Chairman and CEO John Watson, and high-profile Board nominees Chuck Hagel and John Stumpf, are expected to face tough questions about how they will intervene to end Chevron’s risky strategy of concealing the company’s potential massive liability in Ecuador from regulators, investors, shareholders, and the public.
Citing its ongoing liability for "widespread contamination" in Ecuador, a shareholder proposal calls on Chevron to nominate a Board member with environmental expertise. With a positive recommendation from influential proxy voting firm RiskMetrics and the Ecuador liability looming, co-filers of the proposal expect a high vote at the meeting.
“Chevron’s Board of Directors have failed their shareholders and they have failed the people of Ecuador,” said Maria Ramos, Change Chevron Campaign Director at Rainforest Action Network. “Until Chevron commits to fair clean-up and compensation for its massive oil contamination in Ecuador, we will hold the Board responsible for the continued suffering and death in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest. We are already educating Chevron’s newest Board member, Senator Chuck Hagel, about the environmental disaster in Ecuador and hope that he will demonstrate courage lacking in current Board members and finally change Chevron.”
Noting that Chevron’s Board and CEO have failed to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Ecuador, Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network vowed to “turn up the heat on the Board” to resolve the ongoing crisis in Ecuador.

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