Thursday, June 4

Ecuador Gov't v. Chevron Recap

Image by erjkprunczyk via Flickr
Ecuador suffers from one of the worst environmental disasters in the world in an oil spill in the Amazon jungle. You can read the Chevron side here and the Gov't supported side here.

One would really have to be a judge and see all the evidence to make a final and conclusive judgement on the matter, but after reading both sides the fault and blame seems to fall most heavily on the shoulders of the government of Ecuador.

The Ecuador gov't started out with a 25% stake in the operation that rose to 65% and finally to total control in 1992. Texaco/Chevron and others had much of the control of the operations but had to constantly wind their way through the loops of gov't control. When Chevron finally was given the boot out of the country they negotiated an exemption from liability with the government with a clean up of their portion of the problem that cost $40 million. Did they actually clean up what they said they would? The government then said yes, and signed the contract. Outside interest groups now say no, and want to hold Chevron responsible.

I might sound like a broken record soon, but I firmly believe that good government is about following the law, and that includes the government as well. The Ecuadorian government followed few laws.

In 1999 a new law was passed that created a loophole for new Chevron liability in the case. An ex post facto or retroactive law was passed to make it possible for not only the government to hold Chevron responsibile but individuals as well. This violated the Ecuadorian constitution.

Further, the present government of Ecuador has threatened to dismiss any judge that rules in favor of Chevron. Say goodbye to an independent judiciary.

This whole scenario reminds me of John Adam's position in the Boston Massacre. John Adam's at the peril of his career and even safety argued in defense of the soldiers who shot and killed individuals at a Massachusetts protest. Why? Because the law supported them.

Chevron might not be a nice company. Maybe they are. That should not matter. Those responsible should bare the costs, and that appears to be the Ecuadorian government.

1 Comment:

bathmate said...

I liked it.