by Jim Ball
It's hard to know where to buy gas these days. I can't wait until we break our addiction to oil. Did you notice during the Super Bowl ads by Chevron touting what humanitarians they are? The ads failed to mention a lawsuit against the company by poor indigenous tribes from the Amazonian rainforest.
Today, a court in Ecuador ordered Chevron to pay $8.6 billion in what could be the largest judgment ever in an environmental lawsuit according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.
The case involves conduct by Texaco (purchased by Chevron in 2001) in the Amazonian rainforest that goes back to the mid-1960s and extended through the early 1990s.
It would be nice if Texaco/Chevron had done the right thing early on, admitted its culpability, and adequately cleaned up the mess and compensated the victims. Instead, they chose a scorched earth policy in the courts and to work with, shall we say, "friendly" government officials to implement a fig-leaf clean-up plan in the 1990s.
As the WSJ article notes,
"Few legal experts expected the case to get this far. The plaintiffs first sued Texaco in New York in 1993. Texaco, and later Chevron, successfully argued that the case should instead be heard in Ecuador, which was then run by a government seen as friendly to American business interests."
Of course, the legal fights aren't over. But this judgment is a blow to Chevron's carefully crafted public image, if nothing else.
Click here to see a video showing some of the damage and the people whose lives have been ruined by this pollution.
And those Chevron ads? They were so ripe for spoof that several environmental groups couldn't help themselves and did just that. (Click here to go to the spoof's website.)
Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.