Chevron in Ecuador: Oil giant should pay-up and clean-up
OTTAWA - Canadian courts should order Chevron to hand over its Canadian assets to compensate Ecuadorian villagers for the toxic legacy they are forced to live with as a result of the cost cutting polluting practices of the company. This court action comes just the Canadian government is attempting to gut environmental laws.
“We have launched #BlackOutSpeakOut because Environmental laws are essential to protect public health and the environment. Without them companies like Chevron will leave a toxic legacy for our children,” said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada.
In 1993 members of indigenous and farming communities living in Ecuador’s Amazon region came together to file a lawsuit against the energy giant, Chevron, that would not be resolved for 18 years. These communities took on this case because of the massively detrimental effects of dumping 16 billion gallons of toxic produced water containing crude oil - a cost-cutting decision purposefully made by Texaco (incorporated by Chevron).This dumping destroyed a diverse ecosystem, caused long lasting health impacts, including cancer, and made even safe drinking water a luxury. On January 3rd 2012, the Ecuadorian courts awarded these communities over $18 billion dollars in damages to be paid by Chevron. However, the company refuses to comply.
“Chevron should step up and take responsibility for the damage it has done, compensate the victims and clean up the mess,” said Mr. Bennett.
The Ecuadorians are now pursuing their case in the Canadian judicial system. Canadians have long held pride in the fact that Canada is a fair and just country and one that is committed to protecting universal human rights. This is a case which can set a precedent. With our international reputation being damaged in recent years (who can forget our failed bid for a spot on the UN Security Council), Canada must step forward to uphold the rule of law and its commitment to ensuring that all peoples can defend their rights. With the recognition and payment of damages in Ecuador, Canadians will be forced to ask when will our “damages” be addressed.
“If major energy corporations are not held accountable under strict environmental regulations, they will leave Canadians with a heritage of pollution and ill-health that can never be undone,” said Mr. Bennett.
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