Quantcast

Landmark Chevron-Ecuador Case Nearing a Conclusion

Energy

Amazon Watch

After 19 years of litigation, the monumental class action lawsuit against oil giant Chevron for environmental devastation in the Ecuadorian Amazon is nearing an end. On Jan. 3, 2012, an Ecuadorian appeals court confirmed an $18 billion judgment against Chevron. This judgment is exceeded in size only by BP's expected outlay for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The judgment is internationally binding, and it sends the message that corporations cannot evade justice for their crimes around the world. It sets major precedents, not only for Ecuador's indigenous people and farmer communities, but also for international human rights, environmental law and corporate accountability.

The marathon legal process is not yet over, however, as Chevron is fighting last-ditch legal battles in U.S. courts and an international arbitration tribunal, trying to throw sand into the wheels of justice. The endgame is likely to be an accelerating race against the clock, as lawyers for the plaintiffs attempt to enforce the judgment by seizing Chevron's key assets in Latin America, while Chevron desperately seeks legal stratagems to protect its tankers, oilfields and refineries from confiscation.

The result will determine the meaning of the largest and most controversial environmental disaster in history. Mountains of evidence—including thousands of contamination samples taken by Chevron—prove the company (through Texaco, which it purchased in 2001) is responsible for oil contamination in the rainforest of northeastern Ecuador. Over nearly three decades of oil production, it is estimated that Texaco spilled or deliberately dumped the equivalent of 345 million gallons of crude in the region.

Since then, Chevron has poured immense resources into a legal and public-relations offensive designed to portray the case and the courts as corrupt and lay a basis for evading enforcement of the judgment. Instead of dealing with the indisputable evidence of its responsibility, the company has instead launched a strategy of intimidation, distraction and delay.

Chevron's nearly unlimited legal resources—including its battalion-size legal team of as many as 500 attorneys—allow the company to file a nonstop assault of legal briefs, motions and attacks, attempting to overwhelm, outspend and bankrupt the plaintiffs' scrappy, underdog team of about 15 lawyers.

This briefing paper provides a summary of this historic legal battle, followed by an outline of some of Chevron's strategies to evade accountability for one of the world's worst environmental disasters.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

"It would be great to see all the candidates join Elizabeth Warren in taking the No Big Ag Money Pledge," said Citizens Regeneration Lobby's Alexis Baden-Mayer. Peter Blanchard / Flickr / ric (CC BY 2.0)

By Andrea Germanos

Food system justice and environmental advocates on Wednesday urged all Democratic presidential hopefuls to follow in the footsteps of Sen. Elizabeth Warren in signing a pledge rejecting campaign cash from food and agribusiness corporations.

Read More
A new study shows the impact Native Americans had on landscapes was "small" compared to what followed by Europeans. The findings provide important takeaway for conservation in New England today, seen above in a view of areas surrounding Rangeley Lakes in Maine. Cappi Thompson / Moment / Getty Images

There's a theory going around that Native Americans actively managed the land the lived on, using controlled burns to clear forests. It turns out that theory is wrong. New research shows that Native Americans barely altered the landscape at all. It was the Europeans who did that, as ZME Science reported.

Read More
Sponsored
Loggers operate in an area of lodgepole pine trees killed by the mountain pine beetle in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest on Sept. 13, 2019 in Montana. As climate change makes summers hotter and drier in the Northern Rockies, forests are threatened with increasing wildfire activity, deadly pathogens and insect infestations, including the mountain pine beetle outbreak. The insects have killed more than six million acres of forest across Montana since 2000. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Donald Trump told a crowd at the Davos World Economic Forum Tuesday that the U.S. will join the Forum's 1t.org initiative to restore and conserve one trillion trees around the world, according to The Hill.

Read More
Wild rice flatbread is one of many Native recipes found in Indigikitchen. Indigikitchen

The online cooking show Indigikitchen is providing a platform to help disseminate Indigenous food recipes — while helping eaters recognize their impact on the planet and Native communities.

Read More

On the Solomon Islands, rats and poachers are the two major threats to critically endangered sea turtles. A group of local women have joined forces to help save the animals from extinction.

Read More