- The Washington Times - Monday, May 11, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

LETTER TO THE EDITOR:

Your editorial (“Ecuador grabs for Chevron’s wallet,” Thursday) misses several facts about the lawsuit against Chevron Corp. in Ecuador. The basis of this lawsuit - brought by 30,000 private citizens - is that Texaco (now Chevron) deliberately dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste directly into Amazon waterways to lower production costs. It also abandoned 916 open-air waste pits gouged out of the jungle floor, which to this day leak toxins into soils and groundwater, according to scientific evidence in the case.

The “remediation” you cite was a sham, according to the evidence. The release given by Ecuador’s government in exchange for this purported remediation, besides being a product of corruption, is irrelevant to the lawsuit. The rain-forest residents did not sign off on it, and they are not bound by it. It does not matter that Texaco was a minority partner in a consortium. Texaco was the exclusive operator and thus legally must own 100 percent of the environmental damage. It was Texaco alone that designed, engineered, built and operated a system of oil extraction that dumped toxic waste on a systematic basis, decimating indigenous groups and poisoning the ecosystem over an area the size of Rhode Island.

Finally, the case is being tried in Ecuador because Chevron wanted it there so badly that it submitted 14 sworn affidavits to a U.S. federal judge praising Ecuador’s courts. Once the trial began and the evidence pointed to Chevron’s culpability, the company began to attack the very courts it had praised. The reality is that there is no independent court in the world acceptable to Chevron, as a company spokeswoman all but admitted in her interview with “60 Minutes.”

STEVEN DONZIGER

New York City

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