April 22, 2006
Chevron Celebrates Earth Day
President George W. Bush marked Earth Day by highlighting the use of technology to reduce the U.S.’s dependency on foreign oil. Reuters reported Bush toured the California Fuel Cell Partnership in Sacramento and promoted the use of hydrogen fuel cells to change the way cars are powered. These cells wouldn’t emit pollution and would be more efficient than gas-powered cars.
“By developing these and other new sources of clean renewable energy like ethanol, we will continue growing our economy, reduce energy prices and protect our environment, and make America less dependent on foreign oil,” – Bush said in his weekly radio address.
While environmentalists welcomed Bush’s focus on fuel-cell technology, experts argue that fuel-cell vehicles would not be available for mass use for another 20-30 years. Roland Hwang, policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, warned against selling a promising long-term solution as “a quick fix” for political cover. In other Earth Day news….. oil prices continue to increase, capping at $75 a barrel on Friday. This comes courtesy of increasing tensions over Iran’s quest for nuclear capacity. The energy plan Bush wants Congress to pass, which would also boost federal research into batteries for hybrid and electric cars and renewable fuels, does not include any measures that would reduce pump costs in the short term. Call me cynical…all this happy news on the environment sounds like a lot of smoke and mirrors. Can this administration stop being influenced by the powerful oil industry? Bush’s father was part of the team that built the oil wells in Kuwait in the 1950s. Back when nobody knew where the Middle East was and nobody cared. I think something has to be done to reign in huge corporations. They are the negative aspect of globalization. Wielding more economic power than many governments, multinational corporations are significant contributors in the global struggle for human rights. All companies have a responsibility to respect human rights in their operations, but all too often they are contributing to human rights abuses – either directly or indirectly. More so, they’re commitment to social responsibility and accountability is a lot of double-speak. No surprise….there’s nothing on Chevron’s home page that addresses policies it will take to be socially responsible. But Chevron does have the following to say:
“Our corporate responsibility efforts are grounded in The Chevron Way, which outlines our commitment to “conduct business in a socially responsible and ethical manner… support universal human rights… protect the environment, benefit the communities where we work… learn from and respect cultures in which we work.”
Wait it gets better…
“We are proud of Chevron’s more than 125-year legacy of corporate responsibility…we are committed to continuing to expand our knowledge and understanding of social and environmental issues that affect and are affected by our operations.”
The Chevron way? The Chevron way is the destruction of indigenous communities. Chevron’s commitment in Ecuador’s Amazon consists of not cleaning up oil contamination it is responsible for.
- According to the 1993 report “Amazon Crude” by environmental lawyer Judith Kimerling, from 1972-1992, Texaco/Chevron intentionally dumped more than 19 billion gallons of toxic wastewaters into the Ecuador Amazonian region.
- It was responsible for 16.8 million gallons of crude oil spilling from the main pipeline into the forest. This contaminated the soil and the groundwater of the communities in the area and continues to threaten the Indigenous peoples’ survival.
Chevron has not only refused to acknowledge any link between the public health hazards and the environmental problems caused by its drilling policies in the Amazon. It also refused to clean up the pollution, claiming that a ‘clean up’ agreement with the Ecuadorian Government has released it of any further liability. The company has further denied direct compensation to the affected communities for threatening their health, and economic and cultural survival by polluting their environment. The Amazon residents have been fighting this problem in courts since 1993. With the immense profits the companies post every quarter, the least they can do is offer them a good settlement. Amnesty USA has information on petitions being sent to the Chevron Board of Directors demanding the company takes responsibility for restoring the environment and public health in the region. You can also take part in Indigenous Peoples Day Oct. 8-12 to support communities in the Amazon affected by Chevron.