Resolution Criticizes Chevron's Profiteering in Iraq, Nigeria Slayings and Ecuador Disaster
11 June 2008 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
San Francisco - The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, June 10th to pass a resolution condemning Chevron for its disturbing record of human rights abuses and environmental destruction around the world.
Citing transgressions including profiteering from the Iraq war, the dumping of 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater in an inhabited area of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and complicity in the slayings of peaceful protestors in Nigeria, the resolution was filed by Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi and Aaron Peskin.
It "condemns Chevron Corporation for a systematic pattern of socially irresponsible activities and complicity in human rights violations that is at odds with the values of the citizens of San Francisco, and at odds with the standards of ethical conduct those citizens expect from corporations based in the Bay Area, in our own communities as well as abroad."
It is regarded as unusual for the Board of Supervisors to adopt resolutions criticizing specific companies. Based in San Ramon, Chevron is the second largest US oil major and one of Northern California's largest corporations. The resolution reflects a groundswell of public opinion in the Bay Area against the apparently systemic nature of Chevron's flouting of basic human rights and environmental norms and legislation in numerous countries where it operates.
In a joint written statement introducing the resolution, the four Supervisors said they "condemn Chevron for its consistent, systematic pattern of environmental destruction and complicity in human rights violations; and to demand that Chevron serve as a better ambassador for the Bay Area around the world, by conducting business in accordance with the values that our citizens hold dear."
The San Francisco resolution follows another resolution adopted by the City of Berkeley in January to boycott Chevron products. "We expect there to be a growing number of similar resolutions adopted by cities across the US, condemning Chevron and calling on the company to clean up its act," said Amazon Watch campaigner Mitch Anderson.
He added: "The fact that this resolution has now been passed in Chevron's own backyard, shows how Chevron CEO David O'Reilly has brought the company to the brink of losing its social license to operate. We hope the San Francisco resolution sends a strong message to all senior executives in San Ramon that the company needs to move out of denial of its human rights and environmental violations and start acting like a responsible corporate citizen."
Chevron's human rights and environmental issues cited in the resolution include:
Burma: Chevron's Yadana pipeline has provided revenues that have propped up the country's repressive military dictatorship, while security forces guarding the pipeline have been accused of rape, murder and forced labor. The pipeline has also had significant direct and indirect environmental impacts on the Tenassirm region, one of the largest surviving tracts of tropical rainforest in Southeast Asia, including illegal logging, fishing and poaching. Meanwhile, the pipeline has exacerbated the human rights abuses perpetrated by Burmese security forces against the region's Mon, Karen and Tavoyans indigenous peoples. Naw Musi, a Karen woman who lives in exile, attended the shareholder's meeting.
Ecuador: Chevron is accused of causing the most extensive oil-related contamination on the planet. Chevron had admitted to deliberately dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into Amazon waterways and abandoning almost 1,000 open-air toxic waste pits, leading to the decimation of indigenous groups. A court-appointed special master recently found 428 deaths from cancer in the region related to Chevron's oil operations. In addition, community leaders heading the lawsuit have been subject to death threats, office break-ins, and assaults that have resulted in protective measures being ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Iraq: Chevron has been a leading player in the Iraqi oil sector since the US occupation of Iraq. It was one of the first companies to win contracts in Iraq after the US attack on the country despite the absence of a democratically-elected government in the war-torn country possessing a genuine popular mandate to negotiate regarding Iraq's natural resources. If the Bush-approved Iraqi Oil Law, effectively a privatization of Iraq's oil reserves, is approved, Chevron is also expected to be one of the principal beneficiaries.
Nigeria: Security forces flown in and closely supervised by Chevron Nigeria shot nonviolent environmental protestors in an infamous case that will be the focus of two trials in San Francisco later this year. Two people died, several others were injured and some survivors of the attack were then tortured in a Nigerian jail. One decade after the incident, and after years of legal wrangling in American courts, Chevron management has yet to compensate the families of those killed and injured or resolve the original issues raised by the community.
Philippines: In Pandacan, Philippines, oil depots partially owned by Chevron threaten the health and safety of over 84,000 residents. In February 2008, following a deadly tanker explosion, the Philippine Supreme Court reaffirmed its decision to uphold a city ordinance forcing closure and relocation of the oil depots, citing the need to protect residents from "catastrophic devastation." Despite community opposition to the depots, Chevron has yet to comply;
United States: In Richmond, in the East Bay, 35,000 families live in the shadow of a Chevron refinery that spewed out three million pounds of contaminants during the last three years. Existing pollution from Chevron already causes premature death, cancer, and other health ailments. Richmond asthma rates are 5 times the state level. Now Chevron wants to expand the refinery, allowing it to process both more and dirtier crude oil, despite overwhelming opposition from local residents. Most of the people who live in the area are minorities, leading to charges of environmental racism.
Bay Area groups supporting the resolution include: Amazon Watch, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Burmese American Democratic Alliance, Center for Environmental Health, Communities for a Better Environment, Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity, Forest Ethics, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Global Exchange, International Accountability Project, International Rivers, Justice in Nigeria Now, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala, and Rainforest Action Network.
Click here to view the resolution