City of Berkeley Votes to Boycott Chevron

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Resolution Cites Controversial Human Rights Record and “Severe Ecological Destruction” in Amazon Rainforest

San Francisco – Berkeley City Council is to boycott Chevron products and services, citing the San Ramon-based oil major’s controversial global environmental and human rights record.

The authority adopted a resolution on January 29, mandating that it “cease all purchases from Chevron” as a result of the corporation’s record of ecological destruction and involvement in human rights abuses in Angola, Burma, Ecuador and Nigeria, as well as the San Francisco Bay Area, where Chevron operates a refinery widely suspected of causing cancers and other health problems among local residents.

Supported by Amazon Watch and 14 other environmental and human rights groups, the Berkeley resolution is the first in a series of similar proposals to be considered by municipal authorities across the U.S. in the coming months as Chevron management’s failure to deal decisively with a range of legacy and current corporate responsibility issues causes growing public and investor concern.

“In locations across the globe including Ecuador, Nigeria, Burma, and Iraq, and as close to Berkeley as its Richmond refinery, Chevron has been implicated in major human rights violations and environmental destruction,” said Berkeley Peace and Justice Commissioner Diana Bohn, who filed the resolution. “The City of Berkeley stood up today and sent a clear message to Chevron: your corporate recklessness will not be tolerated.”

From 1964 to 1992 Texaco (now Chevron) built and operated oil exploration and production facilities in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon, dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater directly into a vast, inhabited area of rainforest. Today Chevron is a defendant in a class-action lawsuit in the region where thousands of rainforest dwellers, suffering a public health crisis, are seeking at least $10 billion in clean-up damages.

Chevron is also facing a trial in a U.S federal court in San Francisco on charges it paid Nigerian military and police to fire at villagers staging a protest at a Chevron oil platform in 1998, killing two people. Nigerian citizens also allege that the company was complicit in an attack on two villages that left four dead.

In Burma, the company’s ties to the military junta, which has carried out a brutal crackdown against peaceful democracy protests, has brought a wave of international condemnation. As a result of its recent take-over of Unocal, Chevron now owns the Yadana gas project in Burma. Yadana is allowed to operate by a loophole in existing U.S. sanctions against the country, and has provided significant revenues to Burma’s military regime.

Locally, in Richmond, in the East Bay, Chevron operates a huge oil refinery blamed for causing serious environmental health hazards, including fires, spills, leaks, explosions, toxic gas releases, flaring, and air contamination. The refinery is suspected of causing cancers and other public health problems in the local community.

Alan Gray is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of NewsBlaze Daily News and other online newspapers. He prefers to edit, rather than write, but sometimes an issue rears it’s head and makes him start pounding the keyboard. Alan has a fascination with making video and video editing, so watch out if he points his Canon 7d in your direction.