Rainforest Action Network members hang a banner on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge blaming Chevron for environmental harm.
Chevron Corp. set to hold its annual shareholder meeting this morning,
a global network of the company's critics on Tuesday released a report
accusing the oil giant of environmental crimes around the world.
This marks the third year in a row that the activists have released
"The True Cost of Chevron," a glossy booklet that mimics the style of
an annual corporate report but thrashes the company rather than praises
it. Chevron's former chief executive, David O'Reilly, memorably said
the first "True Cost" report should be tossed in the trash, and a
company spokesman on Tuesday compared the latest edition to a funhouse
Since the first "True Cost" report, some of the groups involved have
scored victories against the oil company, America's second largest.
Bay Area activists who opposed an upgrade to the company's Richmond
refinery persuaded a judge to halt the project, prompting Chevron to
revamp its plans and submit a new application to the city for approval.
And in Ecuador, a judge fined the company $9.5 billion over oil field
pollution in the Amazon rain forest, an amount that could rise to $18
billion if the company doesn't apologize for its actions. The company
has appealed the judgment and is fighting hard to prove that the
verdict was the result of judicial fraud. Both the Richmond refinery
project and the Ecuador trial are highlighted in the report.
"As this network grows stronger, we expect to see more of these
local successes unfold," said Antonia Juhasz, the report's lead author.
The True Cost network, which now includes more than 40 groups, aims
to give people in different states and countries support fighting a
company that shows little regard for the environment or human rights,
she said. A news conference Tuesday morning touting the report brought
together on a San Francisco street corner people from Angola, Canada,
Ecuador, Indonesia and Nigeria.
"For local communities to go up against that powerhouse, it's very difficult to do that individually," Juhasz said.
San Ramon's Chevron views the report as part of a smear campaign
against the company. The company's own annual "Corporate Responsibility
Report" details investments that Chevron makes in health, education and
economic development projects in the communities where it works -
investments that totaled $197 million in 2010. Projects included
providing vaccinations in Angola and micro-financing for small-town
businesses in Indonesia.
"Chevron is proud of the significant contributions we make to the
communities where we operate by providing jobs, reliable energy and
strategic social investments," said company spokesman Morgan Crinklaw.
"We do all this with an unwavering focus on safety."
Chevron also questioned the accuracy of the "True Cost" report.
Chevron hired a consulting firm to review the reporting processes used
to compile the company's own Corporate Responsibility Report, said
spokesman Lloyd Avram. The True Cost network, he said, didn't take that
"The lion's share of this report was not verified by anybody," Avram
said. "This report has all the accuracy of a funhouse mirror."
Some of the activists who contributed to the "True Cost" report
acknowledge the company's humanitarian efforts. But they say they'd
rather see the company change its underlying practices.
"No one's saying these things are not positive," said Paul Donowitz
of EarthRights International. His organization has been critical of
Chevron's investment in a natural gas project in Burma, a project that
provides income to a government often accused of violating civil
"You can't offset human rights abuses with a school," Donowitz said. "That's not how it works."
To see the full "True Cost" report online, go to sfg.ly/k1Ly6k.
To see Chevron's "Corporate Responsibility Report," go to sfg.ly/iehNxY.
This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle