Falsehoods upon falsehoods are at the core of the legal shakedown against Chevron by U.S. trial lawyers, environmental activists and the Ecuadorian government, aided by an uncritical media. We see another round of unquestioningly repeated falsehoods in the recent coverage of “Crude,” the anti-Chevron movie now being released around the country.

Here, from today’s The Los Angeles Times, the review by Kenneth Turan, who simply accepts the movie’s claims as true.

The outrage in question is the subject of a class-action suit filed by 30,000 citizens of Ecuador against Chevron, the world’s fifth-largest corporation, alleging that 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater were dumped into the Amazon between 1972 and 1990, fatally poisoning the land and water and sickening inhabitants

That’s a lot of propaganda packed into a single paragraph, starting with the word “outrage.” And …

Class-action suit? No. That’s wrong. There are no class-action suits in Ecuador. Class action litigation is, alas, an American legal malady.

Filed by 30,000 citizens of Ecuador? No. That’s wrong. The suit was filed on behalf of 48 plaintiffs and all the damages would go to the Amazon Defense Coalition, with U.S. contingency trial lawyers getting their cut. (Although the Ecuadorian government now claims it would get 90 percent.)

18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater were dumped? Only in the most tendentious interpretation of the term “toxic wastewater.” In fact, it was “production water,” i.e., the water produced in the drilling of wells, everywhere in the world. It was handled according to the prevailing environmental standards at the time — and Texaco (Chevron’s predecessor) — was released from environmental claims by the Ecuadorian government after completing its remediation work on well sites. Meanwhile, Ecuadorian law still allows the discharge of produced water.

Think about it: 18 billion gallons of toxic waste? It’s a preposterous claim on its face, yet it’s a familiar charge in the attacks against Chevron, one that is simply repeated as true by documentarians and reporters alike.


  • We review “Crude” here.
  • And for Chevron’s perspective — and a useful supply of facts — see this summary.
  • As we’ve noted repeatedly, Chevron paid our way for a quick trip to Ecuador in June to see first-hand the oil region and to discuss the claims against it.

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