Friday, March 5, 2010

California Legislators Plan To Travel To Ecuador To See Chevron’s Contamination

After meeting with members of the California State Legislature, tribal leader Emergildo Criollo and officials with the Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch report that several state legislators said they would travel to see the oil contamination in Ecuador’s rainforest, left by Texaco which Chevron purchased in 2001. One of the state legislators, State Senator Loni Hancock, represents the district where Chevron is headquartered. Below is RAN’s blog about the meeting.

CA Lawmakers want to help make Chevron clean up Ecuador

posted by Brianna in RAN General on March 4th, 2010

Last night, Emergildo Criollo, the Indigenous leader from Ecuador, met with California legislators and asked for their support in the 16+ year campaign to demand Chevron remediate massive oil contamination affecting over 30,000 people. Along with supporters from Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network, Emergildo spoke with lawmakers about the impact of California’s largest company in Ecuador, and what they can do to support his community’s call for environmental cleanup and action to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Senator Fran Pavley and Assemblymember Jared Huffman hosted the reception in Sacramento entitled, “From Ecuador to California: California’s largest corporation, one of the world’s worst oil related disasters, and what California’s legislators can do.”

Despite the pouring rain, the reception was packed with Senators, Assemblymembers, and their staff. Lawmakers in attendance included Senator Fran Pavley, Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblyman Manny Perez, Assemblyman Paul Fong, Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, and Assemblyman Jared Huffman. These key leaders from both the Environmental and Latino Caucuses not only listened to Emergildo’s story, but spoke of their desire to support the people of Ecuador who are suffering and dying because of Chevron’s operations.

Assemblymember Jared Huffmand spoke of the need “to remedy a very serious environmental and human tragedy.”

At the reception, Emergildo shared his story. He told the lawmakers about how he was only 6 years old when Chevron (then Texaco) began oil drilling in his community. He spoke of how his family was forced to relocate because of the contamination. About he had to part centimeters of oil off of the river to drink the water. About how he has lost two sons and nursed a wife through uterine cancer because of the contamination. His family drank, bathed, and fished in water that was poisoned by oil dumping.

After telling his story, Emergilod asked all of the Assemblymembers and Senators for their help and invited them to visit his home and see for themselves the devastation Chevron’s behavior has caused.

Senator Loni Hancock, from the Contra Costa district where Chevron is headquartered, said she “would like to come and visit. This is an international issue and an issue here as well.”

Assemblymember Manny Perez had a heartfelt exchange with Emergildo in Spanish and lawmaker after lawmaker stood up and said they wanted to learn more and to see what action they could take.

We are excited about the possibilities moving forward and look forward to working closely with California’s legislators to make sure California’s largest corporation is held responsible for cleaning up one of the largest environmental disasters of all time.