QUOTE SHEET BELOW
SAN RAMON, CA (5.30.2012)—Today, more than 150 protested at Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting, joining together a unique group of union members, shareholders and community leaders. Every year, Chevron faces opposition at its shareholder meeting, but today’s protest drew a larger and more diverse crowd galvanized by the oil giant’s year of legal problems, oil spills and fines for reckless business practices.
“CEO Watson’s fraudulent omission of the current liabilities the company is facing in Brazil, Ecuador and Nigeria once again highlights his gross negligence when it comes to worker safety, environmental health and human rights. This was reflected in the record high votes for the resolution calling for Watson to be removed as chair of the board,” said Ginger Cassady, Change Chevron Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network.
Chevron is facing more than $43 billion in actual and potential fines: $22 billion for oil spills off the coast of Brazil, $18 billion for oil contamination in Ecuador, $3 million for gas explosions off the coast of Nigeria, and $27 million for tax-dodging in Richmond.
João Antonio de Moraes, National Coordinator of the United Federation of Oil Workers in Brazil, the country’s largest union, was denied access to the meeting based on a supposed paperwork error: “I traveled across the globe to call on Chevron to increase the safety of its oil rigs and refineries. Being refused access to the meeting underscores the lack of respect Chevron has for the communities where it operates. Chevron’s neglect for worker safety and the environment from Brazil to Ecuador, Nigeria to California will not go unanswered.”
The United Federation of Oil Workers filed suit in March to demand the cancelation of all Chevron oil and gas concession contracts in Brazil. Two representatives with the United Steelworkers were also blocked from entering the meeting.
Seven shareholder resolutions were presented to address Chevron’s risky operations, including a call for the separation of CEO and chairman that received 38 percent of the vote (double its received in previous years). New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli joined with 39 other investors, with a combined total of $580 billion in assets under management, called on Chevron to settle its two-decade-long legal battle in Ecuador.
“Chevron needs to put its pants on, start acting like a grown up and accept responsibility for its mess in Ecuador,” Luz Trinidad Andrea Cusangua, plaintiff in the Ecuador case, said to CEO Watson.
The protest included representatives of the United Steelworkers, including workers at Chevron’s Richmond refinery; the lead plaintiffs in the Ecuador case; leaders from Nigeria and Angola; local advocates from Richmond; and members of the True Cost of Chevron Network.
Robinson Yumbo, President of the National Indigenous Federation of the Cofan Tribe, Ecuador: "I hope that no one has to suffer like we have suffered. Perhaps now, as we enforce the $18 billion judgment, company executives will learn their lesson.”
Luz Trinidad Andrea Cusangua, plaintiff in the Ecuador case, Ecuador: “Chevron needs to put its pants on, start acting like a grown up and accept responsibility for its mess in Ecuador. You can’t wash your hands of the contamination to Mother Earth.”
Emem Okon, Founder and Executive Director, Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre, Nigeria: “Oil and Gas related incidents in Nigeria’s Niger Delta are unending. I traveled over 6000 miles to attend Chevron’s meeting because I want the Chevron CEO and board to know about the devastating impact of the raging fire from Chevron’s Gas Wellhead in Bayelsa State.”
Nile Malloy, Northern California Program Director for Communities for a Better Environment, Richmond: “Chevron’s Richmond Refinery is the largest industrial greenhouse gas emitter in California and the largest source of CO2 and criteria air pollutant emissions in Richmond. As the largest corporation in California, Chevron could be a real leader in climate protection by reducing emissions locally. This would be a bold statement to the rest of the industry to redress air quality, water, environmental and climate liabilities that have historically put families and children in harm’s way.”
Robert Collier, Corporate Campaign Director, Amazon Watch: “We have heard today from many members of communities around the world where Chevron has acted irresponsibly. Richmond, California. Texas. Ecuador. Brazil. Angola. Kazakhstan. Australia. But the question that really bugs me is this: Would you do this if it were in San Ramon, or Lafayette, or the comfortable communities where you live?”
“Normally, when an executive makes a major mistake that threatens shareholder value and the financial health of the company, they get fired. And rightly so. Just ask the former head of JP Morgan Chase's chief investment office after losing $2 billion in a trading loss last week. But make an $18 billion mistake? At Chevron, apparently you get a promotion.”
Ginger Cassady, Change Chevron Campaign Director for Rainforest Action Network: “CEO Watson’s glaring omission of the current liabilities the company is facing in Brazil, Ecuador and Nigeria once again highlights his gross negligence when it comes to worker safety, environmental health and human rights. This was reflected in the record high votes for the resolution calling for Watson to be removed as chair of the board.”
Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org