Watson 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 from its operations.
Chevron recently eliminated its renewable energy program and stopped its work on solar and wind. Yet, Chevron has caused more global warming gases than any other investor owned energy company in history!
Chevron’s actions threaten the ability of civil society to hold corporations accountable for their misdeeds around the world. Watson has targeted nonprofit environmental and indigenous rights groups and individual activists with subpoenas designed to cripple their effectiveness and chill their speech. They sued the victims of their admitted contamination alleging the decades long campaign for justice was a conspiracy.
Watson’s strategy is to overwhelm opponents with unprecedented legal force (hiring 60 law firms and more than 2,000 legal professionals) and convinced a U.S. court to brand their opponents as criminals while formally excluding all evidence of Chevron’s environmental harms. These tactics represent a threat to any civil society effort to challenge corporate power and prevent abuses.
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 weeks before it even attempted to put out the fire.
Meanwhile the onshore host communities were becoming ill, the fish in the nearby waters that were their livelihood died. Several local communities ultimately had to abandon their villages, lives and livelihoods.
Fearing the lawsuit against it from the City of Richmond for the fire at their refinery that sent 15,000 people to the hospital, Chevron tried to spent $3 million to buy itself the mayor's office and three council seats in the town of 107,000. The company bombarded local residents with ads, created fake online news sites, bought every billboard in the entire town yet ultimately lost every race against opponents who spent less than $160,000.
In the last two election cycles Chevron supplied more funds to Super Pacs than any other energy company in the United States.
Rather than do the right thing and clean up its mess in Ecuador, Watson oversaw an aggressive legal strategy that cost Chevron a $9.5 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 are in danger of being seized as the community pursue enforcement of the verdict in Canada. Chevron and Watson remains an international fugitive from justice believing themselves to be above the law. Rather than pay they filed a retaliatory slapp suit against the Ecuadorians in the US - the verdict of which is under appeal and expected to be overturned later this year.
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."
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.
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board determined that the fire resulted from regulatory shortcomings and a flawed safety culture within the company and was compounded by an inadequate emergency response by company crews. The City of Richmond is suing Chevron accusing officials of placing profits and executive pay over public safety.
Human rights and environmental organizations calling on Chevron to fire John Watson:
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