In an ominous but unsurprising development, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that may well imperil our health, safety, labor, clean air and water, food and environmental protections. On May 1, the court decided to reconsider its 40-year-old precedent in the current case of Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo. This right-wing court, which demonstrated its disregard for legal precedent when it overruled Roe v. Wade, may now overturn the well-settled “Chevron deference.” Doing so would be consistent with the conservative fealty to deregulation in order to protect corporate profits.
US fossil fuel corporations like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Halliburton are in discussions to take over the Eastern European nation’s oil and gas industry, as Kiev pushes to increase production to replace Russian energy exports. This comes after Ukraine’s Western-backed leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, virtually opened the New York Stock Exchange in September and announced that his country is “open for business”, pledging more than $400 billion in “public-private partnerships, privatization, and private ventures” for US companies. In an attempt to bring an end to the war, China has taken the lead in proposing peace talks. Brazil’s President Lula da Silva has done the same.
Chevron has been talking a lot about cows lately. Alongside POLITICO articles about clean energy, in D.C. newsletters, on Facebook and LinkedIn, are Chevron’s recent ads featuring taglines like “We’re looking to turn the methane from cow 💩 into the fuels of the future.” Each ad links to a page on Chevron’s website which explains how methane captured from manure is actually “renewable natural gas.” But Chevron isn’t the only one talking cow manure. As world leaders convened in Egypt last November to negotiate climate action at the United Nations COP27 summit, a dairy industry trade association also ran a social media campaign highlighting efforts to “upcycle methane” from cattle.
Following the renewed talks in Mexico, Washington issued an expanded sanctions waiver for Chevron to partly resume its Venezuela operations. The Nicolás Maduro government and the US-backed rightwing opposition have signed a partial agreement focused on social issues following the resumption of the dialogue process. After a year-long hiatus, the government delegation disclosed that the agreement had been “exhaustively discussed” in Caracas with Norway as a mediator. On Saturday, they traveled to Mexico City to present a new deal that relates to the management of US $3 billion in Venezuelan funds seized by Washington. The document established a joint commission to follow and verify the correct implementation of the agreement.
29 years ago, in 1993, Steven Donziger, a New York lawyer, visited Ecuador and saw communities who lived their lives with their bare feet and hands permanently covered in oil sludge and other pollutants, whose agriculture was ruined and who suffered high levels of mortality and birth defects. He started a class action against Texaco in the United States, representing over 30,000 local people. Texaco, confident that they had control of Ecuador, requested the US court to rule that jurisdiction lay in Ecuador. It also set about obtaining the agreement from the Government of Ecuador to cancel any liability. In 2002 the New York court finally agreed with Texaco (now Chevron) that is had no jurisdiction and the case moved to Ecuador, much to Chevron’s delight.
Human rights lawyer Steven Donziger walked free Monday after 993 days of detention stemming from his decades-long legal fight with Chevron, which deployed its vast resources in a campaign to destroy Donziger after he won a $9.5 billion settlement against the fossil fuel giant over its pollution of the Amazon rainforest. "It's over. Just left with release papers in hand," Donziger wrote on Twitter. "Completely unjust that I spent even one day in this Kafkaesque situation. Not looking back. Onward." Donziger's case has attracted global attention and outrage, with the United Nations high commissioner on human rights calling his prolonged detention a violation of international law.
Nearly 600 oil workers at Chevron’s Richmond, California refinery walked out on strike early Monday morning after rejecting two local contract proposals pushed by the United Steelworkers (USW) union. The refinery workers are demanding higher wages, shorter work hours and better health and safety protections after laboring up to 70 hours a week and risking their lives as “essential workers” throughout the pandemic. The strike by the Chevron workers—the first at the facility since the nationwide strike in 1980—is a thorough rebuke to the USW. Over the last month, the USW has been trying to bully 30,000 oil refinery and petrochemical workers at a dozen energy companies across the country into accepting a four-year national agreement dictated by Big Oil and the Biden administration.
More than 100 environmental and human rights groups on Tuesday sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden urging him to pardon Steven Donziger, the attorney under house arrest for refusing to hand over privileged client information in a high-profile environmental case. In the letter, the groups decry the prosecution of Donziger—who has been jailed in his home and federal prison since 2019—as "retaliation for his work in defense of the rights of Indigenous peoples in Ecuador who were victims of Chevron Corporation's oil dumping." Donziger represented tens of thousands of Ecuadorian farmers and Indigenous people in a class-action lawsuit against Chevron that resulted in a multibillion-dollar judgment—which the fossil fuel giant has never paid—for its subsidiary Texaco's dumping of more than 16 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into rivers and pits in the Amazon rainforest.
I am finally able to write directly from inside the belly of the beast: the federal prison in Danbury, CT. I am now on day 23 of my incarceration, and the experience has been nothing short of mind-blowing. I am living with another person in a 54 sq ft cell; next door is a 37-year-old man, one of the kindest people I have ever met. He was sentenced to a 35-year term for gang violence when he was 19. Three people in my unit of 80 or so men are lifers and have over 30 years in the system. The length of the sentences for various crimes is astounding. We are unique as a country for the extraordinarily punitive nature of our criminal justice system. And it sickens me to see it from the inside. All of us here are simply raw material for a business built largely on money and politics that has virtually nothing to do with rehabilitation (although there are staff here working miracles against all odds to help inmates adjust to the outside).
Janine Jackson: I will introduce our guest essentially the same way I did in May 2017: When we talk about environmental justice, the emphasis is usually on the first word. That might be what comes to mind when you think about Chevron, formerly Texaco, dumping some 16 billion gallons of toxic oil waste into the land and water of Indigenous and farmer communities in Ecuador. But when, having poisoned those communities, Chevron refuses to clean it up, and instead embarks on a decades-long effort to intimidate and silence anyone who tries to call attention to the disaster they created and profited from—well, then, it’s clear that it’s a story about justice, as well as years of cross-national organizing and solidarity.
On the show, Chris Hedges discusses the ongoing persecution of human rights lawyer Steven Donziger. Judge Loretta Preska, an adviser to the conservative Federalist Society, to which Chevron is a major donor, sentenced the human rights attorney and Chevron nemesis Stephen Donziger to six months in prison on October 1 for misdemeanor contempt of court after he had spent 787 days under house arrest in New York. Preska’s caustic outbursts – she said at the sentencing, “It seems that only the proverbial two-by-four between the eyes will instill in him any respect for the law” – capped a judicial farce worthy of the antics of the presiding judges at the major show trials of the Great Purges in the Soviet Union or the Nazi judge Roland Freisler, who once shouted at a defendant “You really are a lousy piece of trash!”
Judge Loretta Preska, an adviser to the conservative Federalist Society, to which Chevron is a major donor, sentenced human rights attorney and Chevron nemesis Steven Donziger to six months in prison Friday for misdemeanor contempt of court after he had already spent 787 days under house arrest in New York. Preska’s caustic outbursts — she said at the sentencing, “It seems that only the proverbial two-by-four between the eyes will instill in him any respect for the law” — capped a judicial farce worthy of the antics of Vasiliy Vasilievich, the presiding judge at the major show trials of the Great Purges in the Soviet Union, and the Nazi judge Roland Freisler who once shouted at a defendant, “You really are a lousy piece of trash!”
The sentence, delivered by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska in New York City, represents "an international outrage," tweeted journalist Emma Vigeland following its announcement. Donziger's sentence came a day after the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said it was "appalled" by the U.S. legal system's treatment of the former environmental lawyer and demanded the U.S. government "remedy the situation of Mr. Steven Donziger without delay and bring it in conformity with the relevant international norms" by immediately releasing him. Donziger represented a group of farmers and Indigenous people in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador in the 1990s in a lawsuit against Texaco—since acquired by Chevron—in which the company was accused of contaminating soil and water with its "deliberate dumping of billions of gallons of cancer-causing waste into the Amazon."
Human rights attorney Steven Donziger has now been under house arrest in his New York City apartment for two years. The reason for his detainment, as Lee Camp puts it in this clip from “Redacted Tonight,” is that Donziger made it his business to hold Chevron accountable for how the Big Oil megacorp “harmed, sickened and killed tens of thousands in Ecuador” and tried to avoid paying “billions of dollars” in restitutions. Donziger’s battle against American oil companies and on behalf of indigenous communities and farmers in Ecuador spans nearly three decades. He was part of an international legal team that represented indigenous groups in Northern Ecuador where, as he tells Camp, from the 1960s to the ’90s Texaco (now Chevron) deliberately “dumped billions of gallons of cancer-causing toxic waste” into local waterways, costing thousands of people their health, livelihood—even their lives.
Human rights lawyer Steven Donziger said Monday that he is a victim of an "obvious travesty of justice" and vowed to appeal after a judge found him guilty on six counts of criminal contempt of court. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska marks the latest development in a case that stems from Donziger's role in securing a historic, multibillion-dollar settlement against Chevron over the oil giant's devastating pollution of the Ecuadorian Amazon.