Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Real Corruption Is In The Ground, Not In Film Footage

In yet another 11th hour tactic to divert attention from a pending judgment in the $27 billion lawsuit Chevron faces in the Ecuadorian rainforest for extensive oil contamination, the oil company is trying to get its hands on all of the footage left on the cutting room floor of Joe Berlinger’s highly-acclaimed documentary Crude.

Filmmakers Michael Moore and Ric Burns have criticized Chevron’s
actions. What Chevron hopes to find in the footage is not clear. What is clear is that the corruption is not in some 600 hours of videotapes. It’s in the ground and the underground water supply of the rainforest for anyone to see and smell. Chevron's quest for the footage is just another last-minute sideshow to taint the judicial process that is proving the case against Chevron, including some 62,000 chemical sampling results, the vast majority of which were provided by Chevron, that overwhelmingly show massive contamination at well sites drilled and explored by Texaco. In fact, Chevron intentionally dumped so much toxic sludge that it would take dozens of years for the BP well in the Gulf of Mexico to spill as much.

But Chevron’s actions in Ecuador were no accident; there was no explosion, no unexpected spill. Instead, Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, designed, installed, and operated a substandard oil extraction system that purposefully dumped some 18 billion gallons of toxic produced water directly into the populated rainforest’s streams and waterways and filled over 900 unlined oil pits to permanently store the oil and formation water waste left over from oil extraction. Since the 70s, this toxic brew has leeched and continues to leech into the soil and into the streams and waterways. Texaco knew it actions would pollute the environment and endanger the residents’ health.

Today the fishermen and shrimp boaters on the Gulf Coast fear the worst. In Ecuador, the indigenous and farmer communities in the region have lived it.

In the more than 40 years since Texaco first stepped foot in the region, many of the people have lost their livelihoods, their homes and, in many instances,
friends and family to cancer and other diseases.

But instead of trying to fix the problem, Chevron has done nothing but try to cover up the disaster it inherited from Texaco, treating the whole disaster as an image problem to be managed, rather than a humanitarian and environmental crisis to be fixed. It has worked for Chevron so far, and clearly the oil company sees no reason to stop.

Notwithstanding Chevron's smoke and mirrors campaign, we still believe that at the end of the day Chevron will be held accountable for its indefensible and unconscionable conduct in the Amazon.

For more information, see these two blogs:
Chevron's Swift Boat Lies
Contempt for Investigative Journalism