Call Chevron to Account for Its Assault on the Amazonian Ecosystem
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To say that Chevron (formerly Texaco) has unleashed an environmental hell in the Ecuadorian Amazon would be a gruesome understatement.
Over the last 28 years, the company has dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic formation waters into the Oriente, a river that about 30,000 native people depend on for bathing, drinking and cooking.
In 1995, Chevron vowed to "clean up" the mess it had made, but the actual effort was pathetic. Less than 1 percent of the 350 drilling sites it had opened were adequately dealt with, and most of the others were simply covered with a thin layer of dirt. Leftover crude byproducts were burned off into the atmosphere.
Today, the surrounding populations continue to suffer from decades of irresponsible ecocide. Studies have linked 1,401 cancer deaths, as well as an unusually high rate of miscarried pregnancies, to oil contamination. And across many villages, children endure a variety of birth defects and disfigurements.
There is good news in all of this: the affected communities are fighting back. Their lawsuit against Chevron, first filed in 1993, gained steam in November 2008 when a court-appointed expert estimated the amount of damages to be between $7 billion and $16.3 billion. If won, it would be a step toward calling the oil giant to account. It would also send a pointed message to other huge conglomerates hoping to exploit people for profits.
Chevron, meanwhile, has promised a lifetime of jury fees and a legal quagmire to anyone who dares challenge it. It's also trying to get the charges thrown out based "judicial misconduct" -- a claim that simply sidesteps the real issues.
The trial's verdict "will either put multinational corporations on notice that they can and will be held accountable for environmental and human rights abuses anywhere in the world, or it will give them the green light to continue operating with business-as-usual impunity," according to Chevrontoxico.com, an advocacy group.
See that no such green light is illuminated. Help call Chevron to account.
(To learn more, check out Crude, the film Chevron doesn't want you to see.)
Here are the rest of our Take Action campaigns this week:
II -- No New Powers to the Fed
The Federal Reserve, which failed to prevent 2008's monumental economic collapse, has in effect become an arm of the banks. It exists without any oversight and continues to jeopardize the futures of America's taxpayers.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is proposing legislation that would expand the Fed's power by giving it full discretion to diagnose systemic risk. This plan is a huge mistake: It will sanction endless bailouts and ultimately put in charge an institution whose incompetence has already cost America billions.
You can help stop this move. Call on Congress to hire a panel of regulators that would operate independently of the banks.
III -- Urge Lawmakers to Pass Meaningful Health Reform
With the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., Democratic efforts to pass meaningful health reform are wobbling precariously. What once could have been a filibuster-proof consensus is now one vote short of a guarantee, and Republicans are showing no sign of letting up.
For this reason, making your voice heard is extremely important. Nearly three-quarters of America wants a new health care plan that includes a public option, but opponents of reform will fight tooth and nail to keep their salaries padded and their pockets bulging.
Together, we can counter this plan and enact strong reform. But we must act now.