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To Harm Big Oil, Lefty Unions Align With Human Rights Abusers

Real Clear Markets - Erik Telford 19/01/2016

You don't often hear Canada and Ecuador mentioned in the same breath, but the left's fight to smear big corporations over alleged abuses sometimes makes strange bedfellows.

It started when Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001. Texaco had been previously active in Ecuador and worked with the Ecuadorian government to mitigate and clean up its drilling sites, at a cost of $40 million to Texaco. Texaco fulfilled this clean-up to the Ecuadorian government's satisfaction and was legally released from any liability.

Years later and after the Chevron acquisition, however, Ecuador colluded with environmental activists to coordinate a $19 billion (later reduced to $9 billion) judgment against Chevron for alleged contamination by Texaco of the Ecuadorian jungle. Ecuador and the radical environmental group Amazon Watch teamed up with American lawyer Steven Donziger, whose shady tactics, combined with a lack of judicial independence in Ecuador, resulted in a multi-billion dollar judgement against Chevron. Interestingly, there was never a lawsuit against or criticisms of PetroEcuador, the nationalized oil company that partnered with Texaco in Ecuador, taking over operations in the early 90's and which is responsible for well over 1,000 spills in the region since 2000.

Chevron fought back, bringing a private RICO action in the U.S. against Donziger and his collaborators. Back on U.S. soil, a court blocked the judgment from being enforced in the U.S., finding that Donziger and company committed "egregious fraud" and nailing him with a long list of crimes, including "committing mail and wire fraud, money laundering, witness tampering and obstruction of justice."

You'd think a U.S. federal court's severe and decisive ruling against Donziger and the Ecuadorian activists would put the matter to rest, but it hasn't. Despite the Donziger debacle, the Canadian affiliate of the Union of Food and Commercial Workers, a prominent leftist union, has now jumped headfirst into the propaganda campaign against Chevron.

Amid great fanfare by Ecuadorian officials, UFCW leaders recently traveled to Ecuador, enjoying favorable coverage by the state-run media. It's the latest play in a state-run PR campaign that has brought international journalists and foreign politicians to Ecuador to promote the case. And if that weren't enough, the Washington Free Beacon also found that the government of Ecuador had a $6 million contract with a New York-based PR firm to bring B-list celebrities like Mia Farrow and Danny Glover, covering the cost of their travels and junkets.

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