Chevron critics hold protest at shareholders meeting

By Jessica Lipsky
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Several activist groups and dozens of supporters rallied at Chevron's headquarters during the company's annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday morning to demand environmental, economic and climate justice. Organizers said they want Chevron to take responsibility for pollution caused by their operations.

"It's important to make the point that Chevron has this pattern, they go into communities and almost every community they work in, they've polluted and devastated. Chevron is a global corporation and they are causing pollution across the globe," said Mike Gaworecki, Change Chevron campaigner for the nonprofit Rainforest Action Network.

Gaworecki said the protest, held from 7 to 11 a.m. on Bollinger Canyon Road at Sunset Drive, will draw delegations from Ecuador, Australia, Nigeria and other countries where Chevron has operations to draw attention to the environmental impacts of oil drilling, much of which is outlined in the alternative annual report The True Cost of Chevron.

"I don't think anyone can know how much (Chevron) pollutes. Because companies like Chevron don't want us to know how much oil they spill, how much pollution is flaring into the air, they don't keep records," Gaworecki said.

Much of the protest centers on pollution such as that in Ecuador, where Rainforest Action Network said Texaco (now owned by Chevron) let 18.5 billion gallons of toxic waste seep into the water supply by not properly lining drill sites. Three Ecuadorian delegates will attend the stockholders meeting to voice their concerns.

But Chevron denies such accusations and pointed to its recently released Corporate Responsibility Report and Annual Report for proof of their positive aid to communities they work in.

"We're proud of the contributions we make to the communities where we operated…we make significant social investments in all those places," said Spokesman Morgan Crinklaw. "(The True Cost of Chevron) report is long on accusation and short on facts."

Crinklaw said Chevron also had representatives at the protest.

Although Wednesday's actions were critical of Chevron, Gaworecki said demonstrators are not protesting Chevron employees.

"I met a petroleum engineer who said that the average employee was on our side, but didn't know much about the situation," he said. "We're just there mainly to protest the management and board's handling of these situations. I think it's really important for (board members) to have to pass through a rally and see that there's this massive movement to have Chevron take responsibility."