Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch

Way Down Watson

October 1, 2012 | Kevin Koenig

Wanted: John Watson

Bad two weeks for Chevron and its head-in-the-sand CEO John Watson. First, last week the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Chevron is under criminal investigation by the EPA for intentionally flaring contaminants and deceiving regulators. No accidental discharge, Chevron literally built a separate pipeline designed to circumvent monitoring equipment, belching contamination into the airspace above the densely populated city of Richmond, CA.

Then, as the Chronicle reported, the initial investigation expanded. And both of these aren't even related to the Aug. 6 refinery fire, which has already produced civil suits, and sparked a new probe from California legislators.

To top it off, Chevron got hit with an injunction by Brazilian courts on Sept. 27 ordering the company to stop operations within thirty days until the investigations of two oil spills off the coast of Rio de Janeiro are resolved. The oil giant was forced to pay $17.3 million in fines last week, and still faces up to $22 billion in potential civil suits.

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Law and Order: Chevron's Criminal Intent

September 25, 2012 | Kevin Koenig

Oil Companies Should Stop Polluting Our Air: We Agree

For those of you who follow the landmark Aguinda v. Chevron lawsuit and the efforts of thousands of indigenous people and farmers to hold the San Ramon oil giant to account for one of the worst oil disasters on the planet, it would come as no surprise to read that Chevron:

...routed hydrocarbon gases around monitoring equipment and allowed them to be burned off without officials knowing about it.

But what's striking about that statement is that it's not in reference to the company's rainforest operations in Ecuador in the 1970s and 1980s. It's referring to Chevron's oil refinery in Richmond, CA. In 2012.

Turns out, Chevron is now under criminal investigation by the EPA for this intentional effort to deceive regulators. The Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle reported:

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Fishermen Paralyze Construction of the Belo Monte Dam

September 20, 2012 | Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre

Fishermen protesting the Belo Monte Dam

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Send a message to Chief Justice Ayres Britto today calling on him to maintain the suspension of the
Belo Monte Dam.


A group of about 50 fishermen prevented a ferry from transporting machines and workers to a coffer dam being built for the Belo Monte Dam complex and set up a protest camp on one of the main islands of the Xingu River near the construction site.

After assembling, the protesters decided to remain in place indefinitely and called on Norte Energia and IBAMA to immediately negotiate compensation for the loss of ecologically sensitive fish species that the fishermen have suffered as a result of the coffer dam's construction.

"The fishermen have seen a 50% reduction in fish reproduction. The river is drying up. Several species failed to spawn over the last year due to Norte Energia's intervention in the river. A lot of fish are dying, and in some locations the company wants to impede the fishermen from accessing the river," said Ana Barbosa Laide of the Movimento Xingu Vivo, who has accompanied the mobilization.

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Hey Chevron, You Can't Fool the People!

September 18, 2012 | Paul Paz y Miño

Panelists Eric Holt-Giménez of Food First, Paul Paz y Miño of Amazon Watch, Maria Roeper of IAM, and Carleen Pickard of Global ExchangeDespite years of fighting to escape justice in Ecuador, Chevron has never quite learned Abraham Lincoln's old adage: "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."

After having the largest environmental judgment in history – $19 billion – handed down against them and held up under appeal, Chevron is fooling fewer and fewer people hardly any of the time these days.

One of the many groups that see past Chevron's lies is the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). The IAM is an AFL-CIO/CLC trade union representing some 646,933 workers from more than 200 industries. I was recently invited to speak at their annual convention in Toronto on a panel entitled "Most Wanted: Global Corporate Criminals." Chevron was at the top of the pack.

Although the panel was organized almost a year ago, it was quite a coincidence that the conference took place in Canada, where just four months ago Ecuadorian plaintiffs filed suit to seize Chevron's assets. The union workers of the IAM recognize that the movement for corporate accountability will not progress unless criminals such as Chevron are forced to account for their actions. Lawsuits brought to Canada and Brazil are just the beginning of the next step in the ongoing campaign to force Chevron to clean up the Ecuadorian Amazon and provide health relief for the thousands of individuals suffering daily from their contamination.

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Victory! Talisman to Withdraw from Peru

Achuar (FENAP) President Peas Peas Ayui reacts to the news that Talisman Energy will leave Achuar ancestral territory

September 17, 2012

"We have fought long and hard against Talisman. Now we've achieved this, but it doesn't end here. We have to remain awake."

Last Thursday September 13, Talisman Energy announced its decision to cease oil exploration activities in the Peruvian Amazon and to exit the country upon completion of ongoing commercial transactions.

"We have fought long and hard against Talisman's drilling in our territory because of the negative environmental and social impacts we have seen from oil drilling around the world," said Peas Peas Ayui, President of the National Achuar Federation of Peru (FENAP). "Now that Talisman is leaving we can focus on achieving our own vision for development and leave a healthy territory for future generations."

Amazon Watch has been supporting the Achuar since 2004, when Talisman began exploratory operations in the heart of Achuar territory in an extremely bio diverse region of the Amazon rainforest. In recent years Talisman has come under increased pressure by human rights groups and shareholders for operating without Achuar consent. Talisman is the fifth oil company to withdraw from controversial Block 64.

Despite Talisman's claim of attaining local support from communities and signing good neighbor agreements with 66 communities downriver from their operations, the company never had the consent of the majority of communities living within Block 64. Talisman first invested in Peru one year after leaving Sudan and became sole operator in 2007, shortly after John Manzoni's appointment as CEO. Manzoni was replaced by ex-TransCanada CEO Hans Kvisle on Monday this week.

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