Thursday, May 13, 2010

BP's Accidental Disaster in the Gulf & Chevron's Deliberate Disaster in the Amazon

Environmentalists and clean energy advocates are hoping that BP's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico will serve as a wake up call – or, as activists who marched on the White House on Tuesday called it, a 'Crude Awakening' – for the oil industry and our political leaders.

But while people across the U.S. are pointing out the need for serious international action on climate change and the urgency of ending our addiction to fossil fuels, much of the media has framed the debate arising from the Gulf spill narrowly: How much offshore drilling? How deep? What kinds of safety measures? Who should regulate it?

Thankfully, activists continue to make noise for real energy solutions.

A handful of people have drawn a direct link between BP's accidental spill in the Gulf, and Chevron's deliberate dumping of billions of gallons of toxic wastewater and oil into Ecuador's Amazon rainforest.

Here are a few articles doing just that. Read & share:

Today, the Chevron Pit blog has a new post up entitled, 'Obama, Ecuador, and Chevron: Big Oil’s Hypocrisy'

Twelve days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, President Obama, visited Venice, Louisiana, to meet with local fishermen, industry representatives and local leaders. President Obama made it clear BP was to blame for the spill:

"BP is responsible for this leak — BP will be paying the bill," he said.

President Obama’s press secretary said the White House would "keep a boot to the throat of BP" to ensure that it fulfilled its responsibilities.

In 2007, six months after his election as President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa visited the former concession area of Texaco, now owned by Chevron, to see firsthand the contamination and destruction left behind by the oil company after almost three decades of oil exploration. President Correa expressed support and concern for the residents who suffer from cancer, respiratory illness and other diseases as a result of living near toxic materials. He lifted soil from the ground and stated the obvious, “Soil with oil, friends.”

He was the first President of Ecuador to visit the contaminated sites since Texaco left Ecuador in 1992.

Chevron’s new attack-dog law firm, Gibson Dunn, points to this moment as evidence that Ecuador is a corrupt and backwards country and that Chevron cannot get a fair trial there -- even though Chevron pleaded with a U.S. court to move the lawsuit to Ecuador in the first place.

When President Correa visited several of over 900 unlined oil pits where Texaco left its toxic sludge, Chevron said it was "sorry" the President had gotten involved by expressing concern for the people living in the contaminated area.

Is Chevron sorry the President of the United States did the same thing on the Gulf Coast? Does Chevron think the United States is a corrupt and backwards country?

Chevron is drowning not only in a multi-billion liability in Ecuador, but also in its own hypocrisy.

Read the rest >>

You can also check out a previous post from the Chevron Pit, whose title says it all: 'BP: 200,000 gallons per day by accident. Chevron: 4 million gallons per day on purpose.'

Environmental journalist Starre Vartan has an article on Huffington Post entitled 'Chevron's Terrestrial Oil Spill: Less Media, More Insidious Than Gulf Slick'.

Vartan, editor of Eco-Chick writes an account of her friend Beth's recent tour of the Amazon rainforest region devastated by Chevron's oil operations.

At length, she quotes Beth Doane, founder of t-shirt company Rain Tees whose proceeds benefit Amazonian communities:

"I visited with the Cofan tribe outside Lago [Agrio] who have been hurt dramatically by the contamination and oil pits left on their land. I saw children in their village swimming in water so polluted with oil that it gleamed iridescent purples and greens as it floated around them. I wanted to scream at them to get out of the water but was told not to say anything as they have no other places to bathe."

Read the rest >>

Also on Huffington Post, Becky Tarbotton, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network, wrote on Tuesday about the Senate Hearings happening on Capitol Hill in an article called 'BP Oil Disaster: A Crude Awakening for Washington'

Senator Cardin, who is co-chairing one of today's hearings, put it perfectly in the Baltimore Sun:

"The catastrophic oil spill ravaging the Gulf of Mexico and bearing down on coastal states is another reminder: America's current energy policy is a disaster. We need to break our dangerous addiction to oil and promote safe and clean sources of power and fuel -- and we need to begin today."

He took the words right out of my mouth -- America's current energy policy is a disaster. Big Oil and King Coal assert tremendous power in Washington, operating unchecked and unregulated, and wreaking havoc on our environment, public health and our climate. The oil spill in the Gulf is a tragedy, but it is not the only horrifying dirty oil disaster local communities are facing. From the devastating tar sands projects in Alberta to the oily mess Chevron left in Ecuador, across the globe the price of oil is too high.

Read the rest >>

I'm not sure I can add anything to Becky's last paragraph above so I'll leave it there. Tomorrow, news about the film community rallying to support CRUDE filmmaker Joe Berlinger in his fight against Chevron's legal attacks.

– Han

Han Shan is the Coordinator of Amazon Watch's Clean Up Ecuador Campaign.

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