Chevron tries to shaft The Amazon .. again

Posted May 2nd, 2011 by The Environment Site with No Comments

Have you heard?  It’s despicable.  It’s what gives corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability a bad name.  It’s a travesty.  It’s bloody minded.  It should be condemned.  It MUST be condemned.

I’m talking about Chevron’s decision to drop its lawsuit against Steven Donziger, the lawyer who represented the Amazonian indigenous people in their long running pollution suit against Texaco (now part of Chevron).  You still don’t know what I’m talking about? OK, here’s a big brief synopsis…

Texaco goes into the Amazon. Drills for oil. Makes a huge, ecologically damaging mess.  So far there’s nothing controversial in what I’ve said, but then comes the next bit.  Texaco pays money to the Ecuadorian government to clear up the mess on their behalf and considers its hands washed clean of the issue (1992).  Then Texaco is bought by Chevron (2001).. so the issue becomes Chevron’s.

Sitck your fingers in your ears and go laa laa laa.  Years of twists and turns leave Chevron and the Amazonian population still slugging it out and finally in 2010 an Ecuadorian court determines that Chevron ought to pay $9 billion to clean up the mess.  Case settled? No .. not yet…

Chevron filed papers in a US court alleging a massive racketeering conspiracy against the Amazonian people.  The papers name several people as masterminds of this conspiracy, including Steven Donziger, their attorney, who was supposed to be the conspiracy’s mastermind.

And now Chevron drop their allegation against Donziger.

So we’re left with a conspiracy without a mastermind!  To ordinary person this would be ridiculous.  Like carrying on a government without a Prime Minister or President, or a company without a CEO.  But not to Chevron.  Oh no.  They can allege a massive conspiracy without saying who was creating the conspiracy. Weird, but true.

To cut a long story short, Texaco played games about the pollution they created for a decade and then Chevron played games for another decade after they bought Texaco.  We’re now around 25 years since they issue was first raised.  Yet Chevron take no responsibility for their actions.  Or rather, they say they’ve paid money to the Ecuadorian government and when it’s suggested they didn’t pay enough, they shrug and say “that was the deal”.

This is not responsible behaviour.

What’s more, when you look at Texaco and Chevron’s behaviour in the courts it’s perfectly obvious that they’re trying to avoid responsibility through all possible legal means.  Which bit of that sentence do you want to give emphasis to.. AVOID RESPONSIBILITY or ALL POSSIBLE LEGAL MEANS ?  Ultimately, the company’s strategy is about protecting the board’s collective arse and maximising profits for the shareholders. Stakeholders are nothing. For Chevron, these are still fuzzy coloured people with feathers in their hair ….

While this cloud hangs over Chevron they can never be considered a responsible company, and the more they protest the greater their sin (ahem!) becomes.  Their PR firm should have told them to fold long before now, because all they’re doing is damaging their reputation.

But reputation is another story entirely.

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