Thursday, February 5, 2009

Chevron’s Washington Tricks Exposed

The Washington Times ran an article today exposing Chevron's strategy for dealing with their huge legal liability in Ecuador: try to get the U.S. government to force the government of Ecuador to sweep the case under the rug. Apparently, Chevron has decided that they can't win the lawsuit and so they're trying the good ol' extortion strategy: threaten Ecuador's economy to force the Ecuadorean government to kill the case. Basically, Chevron is trying desperately to get the U.S. to cancel (or not renew) the Andean Trade Preferences Act unless the Ecuadorean government forces the court system to dismiss the lawsuit. So much for corporate responsibility, the rule of law, or having your day in court: around here, if Chevron doesn't think they can win, they just try to cheat.

Thankfully, as the Washington Times article clearly illustrates, nobody is buying what Chevron is selling (well, other than oil and gas – the company had a record year last year, making over $24 billion in profit. Unfortunately, while they were making money hand over fist the contamination they left behind was just getting worse, and causing more people to get sick). The oil company already tried this political tactic once - and failed miserably, losing a huge lobbying battle in Washington and diminishing whatever credibility the company had in Washington. And this time, even Chevron's allies, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), aren't defending the company, distancing themselves from the company and saying that this tactic just isn't going to work.

So why is Chevron trying to get the U.S. government to strong-arm the Ecuadorean government for them? Well, it looks like they're just getting desperate. The Chevron officials admitted that they expect the Ecuadorean court hearing the case to "file a judgment against them on behalf of tens of thousands of Ecuadorean Indians." And since the best estimate of what that judgment will be is the $27 billion assessment of damages made by the independent expert appointed by the court in the case, it's no wonder that Chevron is starting to panic.