In a Financial Post blog entry, “Turning the tables,” Silvia Santacruz, an Ecuadorian economist based in New York and the publisher of Ecuador Mining News.com, provides knowledgeable perspective about the trial lawyer/activist litigation against Chevron. She also critiques the one-sided and misleading documentary-style film about the dispute, “Crude.” Companies usually try to buy peace in circumstances like these, Santacruz observes, funding NGOs in order to avoid a PR beating to their market capitalization. But…
[One] American firm — Chevron — is not only fearless of green campaigners’ tactics, it is giving them a taste of their own medicine. In the process, it may also highlight the problems with government ownership of natural resources, including eco-disasters, that environmentalist activists blithely ignore.
In this case, the government-owned operator is Petroecuador, which has continued to develop the Amazon region’s oil resources after ending its consortium with Texaco — later bought by Chevron — in 1992. Santacruz, who recently traveled to the Lago Agrio region in Ecuador, reports the reality ignored by the activists, U.S. trial lawyers and, too often, the U.S. media who report on the litigation.
During my visit to the oil spills, I found some reforested sites, others being cleaned up, and just a few crude spills collected in pools. At one site, known as the “Presidential Well” after Correa gave a press conference there, I noticed that the pipelines were warm. Petroleum was being pumped, and the spill was recent — I threw a stone that sank instantly. I had no doubt: Petroecuador is currently operating there. So, how can Correa and environmentalists accuse Texaco of a “pollution 30 times greater than the Exxon-Mobil,” when the company left 20 years ago?
Recent data reveal that state-owned Petroecuador has caused 1,415 crude spills between 2000 and 2008, an average of one incident every other day. But environmentalists in Ecuador do not care about Petroecuador and continue to point fingers at Chevron instead. Astonishingly, my country’s ecological disaster does not make the green campaigners blink. State-owned companies’ pollution is simply not on their radar screen. They seem to care not so much about my country’s indigenous people as they do about Chevron’s pockets.
So that was actually Petroecuador oil that the actress Daryl Hannah stuck her hand into for all those anti-Chevron publicity photos. She seemed not to care so much about the country’s indigenous people as she did about her own self-promotion, but that’s Hollywood environmentalism for you.
Santacruz is an Ecuadorian, an economist, and a person with first-hand knowledge of the energy industry in developing countries. Her insights merit serious attention. Instead, we predict, the Amazon Defense Coalition will attack her motives and dream up some sort of nefarious connection. That’s SOP for the activists, who seem to care not so much about truth as they do about Chevron’s pockets.
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