Two Chevron protesters arrested at oil spill hearing

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WASHINGTON — Two protesters were taken into custody Tuesday by Capitol Police during a hearing of a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee at which the chairmen of five major U.S. oil companies testified.

The detentions came just moments after the hearing was adjourned, when a woman tried to approach the chairman of Chevron, John Watson, and hand him a bottle of dark liquid. Police stopped the protester.

The five oil executives, including Lamar McKay of BP America, were quickly escorted out by police.

The two detained women were identified as Ginger Cassidy and Kaitlin Finneran. They were described as part of the "Change Chevron" campaign run by Rainforest Action Network, according to another member of the group, Brianna Cayo Cotter.

Cotter said that the dark liquid in the bottle was contaminated water from Ecuador, where Change Chevron claims the oil company dumped 18.5 billion gallons of toxic waste sludge from 1964 to 1990. Chevron is disputing the charges in an Ecuadoran court.

Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson denied that Chevron was responsible.

"The people of Ecuador's Amazon face real challenges due to their government's failures," he said in an email. "Regrettably, there are those who seek to profit from the situation. Exploiting the Gulf spill is an unfortunate commentary on just how far some people will go in trying to legitimize an illegitimate lawsuit."

About 40 people who attended the hearing wore black T-shirts that read "Energy Shouldn't Cost Lives" and "Big Oil Lies. People Die."

Cotter videotaped Cassidy yelling out of the police car, explaining that she was arrested for trying to talk to Watson.

Capitol Police did not respond to requests for comment, and it was unknown if the women would face criminal charges.

McClatchy Newspapers
Reid Davenport
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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