Outrageous Claims (and Lawsuits), So Oil Companies Fight Back

Investor’s Business Daily editorializes today on Chevron and Exxon Mobil defending themselves against agglomerations of activists* who have organized around multibillion-dollar lawsuits led by U.S. trial lawyers. Short version: Fighting back against outrageous attacks is virtuous.

From “Big Oil Bites Back“:

Wednesday, Chevron was descended upon by a zoo-full of San Francisco leftists pushing rain forest sentimentalism, Burma, and other pet causes dear to the no-soap crowd. They journeyed all the way to San Ramon, Calif. to shout “Shame on you!” and “No blood for oil” and worse yet to make demands on the company.

Among them, a vociferous crew calling on Chevron to settle quickly with an Ecuadorean activist group with a guerrilla-like name: El Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia.

El Frente has a $27 billion pollution lawsuit against Chevron. Its case is worthless. Chevron hasn’t operated in Ecuador since 1992 and got a clean bill of health from Ecuador in 1998. Any pollution now is a product of Ecuador’s mismanaged state oil company.

But that hasn’t stopped the formidable publicity machine that’s roped in the gullible media covering this case. The new demand, echoed in the press, is for Chevron to “settle” with El Frente.

Chevron has mounted an aggressive PR campaign that seeks to bring facts and balance to the public debate, and the efforts are bearing fruit. Shareholders on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected a resolution meant to increase the pressure for a settlement.

Chevron’s CEO David O’Reilly is forthright in response to the activists, too. From AP:

When one speaker took the microphone to talk about a report by environmental organizations titled “The True Cost of Chevron,” O’Reilly called it “insulting to our employees and I think it deserves the trash can.”

Our view of this “report” is that it’s a well-packaged collection of flimsy, political attacks. Of interest is how much money was spent to publish and promote the thing. But you be the judge.

This week Chevron also announced a new website to respond to attacks about Ecuador: http://theamazonpost.com/

* Agglomeration is the collective noun to describe any larger grouping of activists — an agglomeration of activists. Like murder of crows. Or nattering of Naderites.

† Disclosure: Chevron has organized a trip to Ecuador for bloggers I will be joining. The company has made no demands as to what, if anything, I write. Chevron is an NAM member.

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