The Case of Chevron
Despite ChevronTexaco spending 300 million dollars, just a little under 2 percent of the company's $14 billion annual profit, on renewable energy products and a media "greenwash" campaign, www.willyoujoinus.com, the company remains one of the world's largest polluters.
ChevronTexaco contributes just $38 million a day; nine day's worth of profit in non polluting alternatives.
The 2001 merger with Texaco "was the joining of two of the world's major polluters" and made ChevronTexaco the second largest U.S. based oil company and the world's fifth largest.
In the United States Chevron's history of pollution has long been documented. In 1970 in the toughest federal action ever brought against a polluter, a grand jury in New Orleans indicted the Chevron Oil Co. on a 900-count criminal charge of having "knowingly and willfully" failed to provide safety devices on 90 wells. In the last 30 years Chevron has improved its practices. Despite this as late as 2002, according to the EPA's National Emission Inventory, Chevron was responsible for 4,030,422.95 pounds of green house gas emission pollution in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
Chevron as the world's polluter
Chevron was the first international oil company to operate in Nigeria and has, for almost 40 years of operations there, practiced the wasteful process of burning off of gas associated with oil drilling.
This gas flaring has resulted in the flaring of billions of cubic feet of natural gas. These flares have and are wrecking havoc on the air and water quality in the Niger Delta. Communities living near the flares are suffering from a myriad of health issues and are more likely to get cancer and suffer from asthma as a result of breathing flare smoke. Many flares have been burning for over 20 years and in locations only a few hundred yards from the center of the nearest village.
According to the Canadian Public Health Association, gas flares contain as many as 250 toxins and their smoke emits particulate matter---including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxides and carcinogenic substances as well as unburned fuel components, including benzene, toluene, xylene, and hydrogen sulfide. Exposure to benzene and its metabolites causes acute nonlymphocytic leukemia and a variety of other blood-related disorders in humans.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency Flare smoke can cause aggravated asthma, increases in respiratory symptoms like coughing and difficult or painful breathing, chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function, and premature death.
Gas Flaring also causes acid rain, corroding roofs, acidifying lakes and streams and damaging vegetation. This acid rain, combined with frequent oil spills--totaling more than 10 Exxon Valdez spills--and dumping of toxic drilling waters into rivers has severely depleted fish stocks, which the people of the Delta rely on.
Texaco Operations are destroying the Amazon
Texaco also had a long history as a polluter prior to its merger with Chevron. Between 1971 and 1991, Texaco extracted more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil from the Ecuadorian Amazon while dumping toxic wastes from its operations into the Amazon?s pristine rivers, forest streams and wetlands, ignoring industry standards and devastating one of the most biologically fragile places on earth. 2.5 million acres of rainforest were lost; Oil spills equivalent to 2 Exxon Valdez disasters have contaminated the land and water; and the company recklessly dumped 20 billion gallons of highly toxic wastewater into streams and rivers.
ChevronTexaco: The Pollution Continues
Since the merger of Chevron and Texaco, the new company has become the second-largest U.S. integrated oil company, with almost $200 billion in annual sales. ChevronTexaco has continued the legacy of pollution.
In 1989, ExxonMobil was responsible for contaminating Alaska's waterways and land with the Exxon Valdez spilled about 250,000 barrels of crude oil in the Ocean's surrounding Alaska. In comparison the actions of Chevron and other oil producing companies have created "an Exxon Valdez" every two years since the 1970s. Delta communities tell horror stories of rashes, miscarriages, and mystery illnesses following crude oil spills. Crude oil is full of toxic substances, which are most harmful when people are directly exposed. From 1976 to 2000 in the Niger Delta, in documented incidents alone over 3,000,000 barrels of oil have contaminated land and water-- most of it on farmlands, in fisheries, and in villages.
ChevronTexaco has not consistently neglected the communities and environments in which is the major polluter. Lack of clean up, environmentally destructive production processes, failure to address spills and leaky pipelines are responsible for gross pollutions of the planet and leave local communities sick and hungry.
The Environmental Protection Agency Toxic Release Inventory of 2002 named Richmond, California's Chevron Refinery as the city's largest polluter with a 20% increase in toxic emissions since 1999. At this refinery Chevron stores over 11 million pounds of toxic, explosive, and corrosive chemicals very close to large population centers which endangers the lives of the local community members. This ChevronTexaco's refinery emits a deadly array of toxins into the environment including dioxins into the water and air of the city's mostly African American, South East Asian and Latino communities.
ChevronTexaco's refinery and plant have had, the last decade, hundreds of accidents, including major fires, spills, leaks, explosions, toxic gas releases, flaring and air contaminations. These operations have inflicted severe injuries and illnesses, including asthma and deadly cancers, on the people of Richmond.
ChevronTexaco, sensitive to the protest of local communities, proposed in 2006 a ?significant upgrade" at the refinery that will result in a 6 percent increase in the production of vehicle gasolines as well as a "technological upgrade" to safer, more reliable, more flexible equipment.
Critics maintain that this upgrade will also result in an increase in the emissions of volatile organic compounds which literally waft over and into surrounding neighborhoods. This project could increase greenhouse gas emissions and, without proper mitigations and regulations, dump toxic metals and chemicals into the wastewater flowing into San Pablo Bay.