big oil

Heard about the FBI Tracking of Keystone XL Activists? It’s Worse than You Thought.

If you didn’t already know, a private security firm providing intelligence reports to the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security has cited an FBI document to justify the surveillance of anti-fracking groups. The same security firm concluded that the “escalating conflict over natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania” could lead to an increase in “environmentalist activity or eco-terrorism.” If you did know about this, it’s much worse than you originally thought. Read this well put together article from Adam Federman. He’s done the research and what he’s uncovered will blow your mind. Read the full article here.

Right now, $4 billion of your tax dollars subsidize the oil industry every year - $4 billion. They don’t need a subsidy. They’re making near-record profits. These are the same oil companies that have been making record profits off the money you spend at the pump for several years now. How do they deserve another $4 billion from taxpayers and subsidies? … It’s outrageous. It’s inexcusable. And every politician who’s been fighting to keep those subsidies in place should explain to the American people why the oil industry needs more of their money - especially at a time like this

About 150 activists, indigenous groups & supporters gathered in New York City’s Foley Square this morning to demand that Chevron be held accountable for the $18 billion in damages the big oil corporation was ordered to pay in 2011 for toxic dumping, spills & environmental destruction in Ecuador. 

Today marks the beginning of the trial Chevron's retaliatory R.I.C.O. (Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organization Act) has brought against the Ecuadorians and their U.S.-based legal advocates. The corporation’s use of R.I.C.O. when filing suit against the Ecuadorian victims is its latest attempt to avoid accountability, to evade its $18 billion cleanup & compensation costs & to silence the resistance against the oil giant. Chevron will argue in a non-jury trial that the verdict was obtained through fabricated evidence & manipulation. 

Protesters wore plastic gloves stained with black liquid & held up images of the widespread contamination sites along the Amazon as they chanted “Chevron, asesino!” (Chevron, murderer!). Speakers also told stories of how big oil is threatening indigenous lives in Ecuador. 

Oriente in the Ecuadorian Amazon has been described as a “Rainforest Chernobyl” after Chevron-owned Texaco dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into its streams & rivers from 1964 to 1992. Water sources are now teeming with heavy metals, petroleum & other chemicals, making them inhabitable to aquatic life. Waste pits exuding harmful vapors have yet to be cleaned up while indigenous communities who live in the area - Cofán, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa & Huaorani - are plagued with high rates of cancer, birth defects & miscarriages. 

Chevron has been sued in multiple countries before without success. Those who have been watching the trial say the verdict is already obvious. From Paul Barrett: “Most recently, [U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan] issued a 104-page pretrial ruling last week warning that he has already determined ‘there was probable cause to suspect a crime or fraud’ by [Ecuadorians’ lead defense lawyer Steven] Donziger in connection with the fabrication of scientific evidence, the coercion of one Ecuadorian judge, the bribing of other Ecuadorian judges, and the ghostwriting of a critical report supposedly composed by an independent court-appointed official. For good measure, Kaplan added that he suspects that Donziger’s legal team in Ecuador secretly wrote some, or all, of the February 2011 court judgment.”

Photos/words by Graciela
(Edit: Yes, that is Bianca Jagger in the first photo.)


For six years, TransCanada has negotiated federal and state laws, and contended with the opposition of environmental organizations and landowners, to build the Keystone XL: a 36-inch-diameter, 1,700-mile pipeline that, if completed, would transport 830,000 barrels per day (bpd) of Canadian tar-sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast.

The U.S. State Department has not issued the required presidential permit, which would declare the importing of tar-sands oil in the “national interest.” And the Nebraska Supreme Court just heard oral arguments on a landowners’ lawsuit that could cost TransCanada another year if it has to reapply for its permit in the state.

The stalled process has led one equities analyst to observe that, “Keystone XL doesn’t look like it will ever get fully up and running.”

Yet TransCanada’s fight, and the Keystone XL pipeline, might be moot—along with the campaign that brought together a broad coalition of environmental groups working to block the project and contain the import of tar-sands oil.

According to State Department documents, annual corporate reports, and interviews with company officials and attorneys, Enbridge Inc. and its U.S. subsidiary have circumvented the pipeline permitting process. By the middle of next year, the Calgary-based company will be transporting 800,000 bpd of tar-sands oil from western Canada into the U.S.

Read the full article here.

New investigative report by Washington Spectator reveals how Canadian company Enbridge used deceptive measures and State Department complicity to push through cross-border pipeline with same capacity as hotly contested KXL Pipeline. This is an outrage.

In recent months, many climate activists have focused their efforts on Canada’s tar sands and the companies set on extracting fossil fuels from them. With the debate raging louder than ever, we are in contact with one of the workers helping to build a pipeline to bring oil from the tar sands to the U.S. Read the anonymous correspondent’s second dispatch from one of the world’s most controversial jobs.


The fossil fuel industry continues to prioritize profits over safety – and regulations aren’t keeping up

Wednesday morning, an explosion tore through an ExxonMobil oil refinery in Torrance, California, injuring four people and spewing ash for miles. Over in West Virginia, an oil train continued to burn after it careened off the tracks and exploded on Monday, destroying one home and forcing hundreds to evacuate.

The very least we can do is demand the industry be held to stricter standards.


Trial opens in Chevron RICO suit against pollution victims in Ecuador
October 14, 2013

On Tuesday, Ecuadorean villagers from the Amazon rainforest region ravaged by Chevron’s oil contamination will join supporters for a large rally in Foley Square across from the courthouse where a trial will open in the California-based oil giant’s retaliatory R.I.C.O. (Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organization Act) lawsuit against the Ecuadorians and their U.S.-based legal advocates. 

The Ecuadorians are representing 30,000 plaintiffs who won a landmark judgment against Chevron in an Ecuadorian court in 2011, wherein the company was ordered to pay more than $18 billion towards the cleanup of widespread contamination, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The case, holding Chevron accountable for toxic dumping by its predecessor company, Texaco, has been upheld by appellate courts in Ecuador.

Nearly 20 years since the case was filed in 1993, Chevron refuses to pay for a cleanup, and is waging a scorched-earth legal, PR, and lobbying campaign to crush its victims and their advocates and supporters. The oil giant stripped its assets from the country, forcing the Ecuadorians to pursue enforcement of the judgment in countries where the Chevron still maintains assets. Chevron’s use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act when filing suit against the Ecuadorian victims [.pdf ] and their advocates is the latest chapter in their attempts to evade accountability and repress those trying to hold the company to task.

“This trial is merely Chevron’s latest cynical ploy to evade accountability for its crimes in Ecuador,” said Paul Paz y Miño of Amazon Watch. “Chevron’s legacy in the Amazon has caused enough environmental ruin and human suffering already; it’s time the company to pay for a cleanup, rather than for more abusive efforts to run from its responsibility.”

The Foley Square protest will feature villagers from the Ecuadorean Amazon living amidst hundreds of Chevron’s abandoned toxic waste pits that litter the region. They will be displaying bottles of water polluted by Chevron oil operations, as well as images of friends, family, and community members who have died or suffered cancer and similar illnesses from prolonged exposure to petroleum wastewater. The rally is being organized by members of New York’s Ecuadorean community, along with human rights supporters and environmental activists, who will be supporting them with a massive ‘Lady Justice’ figure and other visually arresting props.

Full article
Facebook event page: Tuesday, Oct. 15 Foley Square 9 a.m.


Netflix’s ‘Virunga’ uncovers Congo’s fight to protect resources

British filmmaker Orlando von Einsiedel did not expect a civil war to break out when he arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012 to profile Virunga National Park’s plans for tourism and economic development.

But that’s exactly what happened as he filmed his first feature-length documentary.


Full article from Reuters

Don’t miss the documentary, Virunga, now on Netflix.

Shell Reveals That Chief Executive’s Pay Doubled In 2011 As It Admits To 207 Oil Spills In 2011

Shell chief executive Peter Voser earned more than £10m last year in pay and bonuses at a time of near-record oil prices and in a year when the firm was responsible for 207 oil spills – considerably more than the year before.

The remuneration, made up of salary, bonuses and long-term incentive schemes, was more than double the figure for 2010 but the company said it was justified by Shell’s strong operating and share-price performance. The oil firm reported global annual earnings of $28.6bn (£18bn) in 2011 – or more than £2m an hour – a 54% increase on the previous year.

Voser’s pay was revealed in the company’s annual report less than 24 hours after directors were criticised by British MPs for alleged complacency over safety plans for future drilling in the Arctic.

Shell said in its report that the number of “operational spills over 100 kilograms” increased to 207 during 2011 from 195 in 2010, but it admitted the figure for last year could still grow. The group is still investigating a further four spills in Nigeria that it admits “may result in adjustments to the 2011 data”. A similar adjustment was made to the 2010 number.

Among the confirmed spills last year was a leak from a pipeline connected to the Gannet Alpha platform in the North Sea, plus one off the Bonga field in Nigeria. The company said that it regretted both incidents, but had taken “prompt and comprehensive response actions”.

Shell admitted that environmental problems it was still grappling with included 23 square kilometres of “ponds” containing toxic metals caused by the mining of tar sands at Athabasca in Alberta, Canada. It said it was still working with local authorities on what to do about the discovery of fresh water from a local aquifer in the bottom of one pond at the Muskeg River Mine, Athabasca.