Rather than do the right thing and clean up its mess in Ecuador, Watson oversaw an aggressive legal strategy that cost Chevron a $19 billion dollar judgment against them. Chevron is now a company attempting to evade justice and has misled its own shareholders about its massive liability.
Chevron's assets have been frozen in Argentina pending a decision on the enforcement of the Ecuadorian decision. Billions of dollars of assets are at risk.
Ecuadorian plaintiffs have filed other actions to enforce as Chevron remains an international fugitive from justice believing itself to be above the law. Watson himself has approved and reinforced this strategy.
More than 15,000 San Francisco Bay area residents sought medical treatment for respiratory problems in the weeks after the August 6, 2012 Chevron Richmond Refinery blaze.
Chevron already faces almost $1 million in potential civil penalties for allegedly violating state workplace safety rules as a result of the fire, which spewed toxic gas and smoke into the air around the plant and sent 15,000 people to hospitals seeking medical attention. Federal indictments could expose the company to millions of dollars more in penalties and even raise the possibility of prison time for company officials.
Chevron is refining toxic tar sands from Canada, and it plans to refine the oil from the first tar sands mine in the United States. The thick, asphalt-like crude, known as bitumen, requires more processing than lighter forms of oil, which could lead to increases in pollution and adversely affect the already suffering communities surrounding the Richmond refinery.
Watson sees no environmental worries with the Keystone XL pipeline: "We have 2.5 million miles of pipelines in this country. They're everywhere in this country, including in the area covered by the Keystone pipeline. We can put in pipelines and produce from pipelines very effectively. We're going to need oil and gas for a long time in this country and Canada has been good trading partner with us for many years."
After the underwater oil leaks in Brazil in 2011, Chevron offered to settle with the Brazilian government for $150 million, an amount that Watson says "seemed commensurate with what transpired". Yet, Chevron still faces $20 billion in civil suits there.
Now Watson wants to drill MORE off the US coast saying: "By rough estimates, America has vast amounts of oil and natural gas in the Outer Continental Shelf – and an estimated 30 billion barrels of it are currently unavailable for development. We know that our methods of extracting it are the safest, most environmentally sound methods in existence."
Chevron spends millions upon millions each year to present an image of a company that "cares" about people and the environment rather than use those funds on cleaning up its act and helping communities suffering directly form its operations.
Chevron has also gone back on its word and is now lobbying a campaign to amend the Californian mandate to reduce emissions – put in place to help reduce global warming.
All the while Chevron CEO John Watson boasts investments totaling "$197 million in our communities [where Chevron conducts business]." This figure amounts to less than 1% of Chevron's profit in the first three quarters of 2011.
Chevron took full advantage of the Supreme Court's misguided Citizens United decision in 2012 when it poured $2.5 million into a Super PAC just weeks before the election. That amount made Chevron the largest corporate Super PAC donor in 2012. When corporations can spend unlimited money on our elections it amplifies their wants and drowns out the voices and needs of ordinary citizens.
Chevron may be facing enforcement action from the Federal Election Commission for its $2.5 million contribution to a Republican-tied super PAC because it violated a prohibition against accepting political donations by federal contractors. A complaint has already been filed by human rights and environmental groups: Public Citizen, Friends of the Earth-US, Greenpeace and Oil Change International.
As part of a Watson's scorched earth legal campaign, aimed at silencing any dissent, Chevron subpoenaed thousands of documents from its own shareholders last Fall. Chevron went on to block a shareholder proposed resolution seeking nothing more than an explanation of the rationale behind those subpoenas.
"I've never had a case of a company playing such hardball tactics against its own shareholders this way," said Simon Billenness with Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. Billenness, who received one of the subpoenas, filed the resolution on splitting up Watson's job – as he is both CEO and Chairman of the Board.
Chevron has tried to hamper, silence and even scare the funders and partners of Amazon Watch and other non-governmental advocacy groups.. Their latest failed attempt was to have a massive document subpoena issued to force Amazon Watch to turn over tens of thousands of documents detailing all of our campaign work in the Ecuador issue going back over ten years.
Chevron asked US Federal Court to make a finding that Amazon Watch had engaged in fraudulent conduct, but instead the court found that "all evidence before this Court suggests otherwise[.]"
They issued similar subpoenas to Rainforest Action Network and other corporate social responsibility allies and have also launched a massive legal effort to get the private emails of others who have been in any way connected to the effort to get them to do the right thing in Ecuador.
In January 2012 a Chevron rig exploded off coast of Nigeria and killed Chevron workers including the manager who told the company the rig was unsafe and begged them to fly people off the North Apoi platform before it exploded.
Chevron ignored his request and then allowed the fire to burn for FOUR weeks before it even attempted to drill a relief well to stop the fire.
Meanwhile the onshore host communities were becoming ill, the fish in the nearby waters that were their livelihood died. Nine local communities ultimately had to abandon their villages, lives and livelihoods.
In the aftermath of a fire at their Richmond, California refinery that sent 15,000 people to the hospital, Chevron tried to evade responsibility by spending $1.2 million in an attempt to buy two seats on two seats on the Richmond City Council. Rather than address the mounting safety and worker's rights issues in Richmond they have attempted to buy their way out thorough political contributions.
Trying to buy Richmond's elections is nothing new for Chevron. In 2010 they dumped $900,000 into local Richmond politics in an unsuccessful effort effort to oust Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, a member of the Green Party and a frequent critic of the corporation.
Human rights and environmental organizations calling on Chevron to fire John Watson:
Features new sections
and accounts written
by 40 authors.
The rally begins at 7:30 am. People will be arriving by carpool, public transportation, bike, and their own two feet. Bring visuals and your voice!