Friday, May 28, 2010

Chevron’s Corrupt and Cozy Relationships with Oil Industry Regulators

President Obama recently promised Americans to end the "cozy relationship" between government and the oil industry. No oil company has been better at developing these "cozy relationships" with regulators than Chevron, which is being sued in Ecuador for the worst oil-related contamination on earth. The sordid tales below give you a glimpse of just how far Chevron will go to evade laws designed to protect people and the environment.

Chevron Courts US Regulators With Money, Drugs & Sex: The news media has reported widely about the "cozy relationship" between the U.S. Minerals Management Service and the oil industry, and President Obama has promised to end it by separating conflicting regulatory functions. Recently news broke about an upcoming Inspector General's report which will detail how MMS officials allowed oil companies to write their own oversight reports.

We should not, though, forget
about Chevron's corruption of the MMS detailed in a 2008 report.

In September 2008, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior accused MMS employees of accepting thousands of dollars in gifts, including ski trips, from Chevron and three other oil companies. The report also alleged drug use and sexual affairs between MMS and Chevron officials and charged that

Chevron was the only oil company that did not cooperate with the IG's investigation.

Chevron's Phony Lab Results:
The New York Times reported recently on the "cozy relationship" between oil companies and laboratories that test for contamination. The article focused on
the potential conflict of interest between BP and the laboratories being used by the federal government to test for contamination of the water and soil on the Gulf Coast. State and local leaders are concerned that the labs could distort information about given that they also work for all the major oil companies. They should be concerned. In the lawsuit against Chevron for oil contamination in Ecuador, Chevron is testing soil and water samples at a lab where its own contractor worked even though it tried to pass off the lab as "independent".

Several weeks ago, the indigenous and farmer communities suing Chevron revealed new information that Chevron "cooked" evidence in the Ecuador trial to avoid a judgment – and that the oil company was providing financial support to employee Diego Borja to prevent him from going public with the company's fraud. Among Chevron's corrupt and fraudulent acts, according to Borja: the oil giant directed Borja to create dummy companies in Ecuador to make it appear that a laboratory Chevron used to process soil and water samples during the environmental trial was independent, when in fact it was controlled by Chevron.

The plaintiffs have long contended that Chevron has intentionally and fraudulently used bogus lab testing procedures to artificially lower the amount of contamination reported to the Court.

Chevron Corrupts Weak Governments: Details about the waivers and permits that U.S. federal agencies granted BP on the Gulf Coast prior to the oil spill are not comforting – they suggest that the regulators the American people were depending on to protect us from disasters have been thoroughly compromised by their cozy relationship to the oil industry. But this shouldn't be surprising to anyone who pays attention to this sector. Chevron in particular has a long history of colluding with government officials to exploit natural resources at the expense of that country's citizenry.

The most destructive and disturbing incidents occurred over four decades in Ecuador's rainforest, where Texaco (now Chevron) intentionally contaminated the waterways and soils and destroyed a way of life for indigenous groups that has led to suffering, illness and ultimately death for untold numbers of people. The "cozy relationship" that Texaco developed with the governments of Ecuador during this time (from 1964 to 1992) resulted in the largest environmental disaster on the planet.

It also produced a fraudulent remediation agreement between Texaco and the government – an agreement that Texaco and now Chevron argue releases it from any liability. Chevron says Texaco cleaned up a small number of oil sites in exchange for the release and cites the agreement as its main defense in the 17-year-old lawsuit. However, recent testing conducted during the Lago Agrio trial at the oil sites Texaco said it cleaned found them to be just as contaminated as the oil sites not cleaned. For their part in the scam, two Chevron lawyers, involved in the negotiation of the remediation agreement, along with seven former government officials,
have been indicted for fraud in Ecuador.

As the oil pours into the marshes and onto the beaches of the Gulf Coast, people need to pay more attention to Chevron's disastrous story in Ecuador.