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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/19/12

The World You Destroy May Be Your Own, or That $18 Billion Is Still in Chevron's Pockets

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photo courtesy of EcoWatch


The good news is that, after nineteen years of litigation, the indigenous people and farmers of the Ecuadorian Amazon, who suffered hideously in the wake of Chevron's devastating oil contamination of their land that destroyed not only human lives, health, and livelihoods but also their lifestyle altogether, have been awarded $18 billion.

Now wouldn't you think that after nineteen years in court protesting their innocence with a battery of as many as five hundred lawyers, the bill might approach $18 billion?

What will it cost the desperately grappling behemoth before it pays up? It's not as if the natives received a big fat check the day after the most recent appeal flopped.

Poor Chevron-Texaco. After spilling some 345 million gallons of crude (according to EcoWatch) over thousands of lives over a period of three decades, its holdings in Latin America may be seized. Justice may prevail. The $18 billion to atone for the past is incomparable to the value of the oil giant's evacuation. Let's pray for that.

That's the news from Ecuador. See the site for more. Who cares about primitives who wear beads and put on war paint when they're mad?

At least that received some publicity. Especially after the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago, some of us remember while others have read about it more recently. Don't forget about the Exxon Valdes disaster that mangled another culture at Prince William Sound, Alaska, in 1989, also caused by attempts to scrimp on safety precautions as much as by a drunk pilot. Spilled oil is still there too while a culture lies in ruins.

Other dispensable rabble took a beating near Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2008, when a similar, but not quite as severe blowout occurred there, courtesy this time of BP, that "clean green" Goliath, all in the name of saving a few nickels, worth more than human lives and their ecosystems.

But that's illegal, according to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental expert and activist, especially after voluminous assurances of how safe their oil rigs were, delving into ocean depths untraveled, hardly charted. How can any such machinery be "safe" for long? Especially when the main precaution is plugs made of quick-drying cement, a device any teenager might suggest to a science teacher?

The platform filled with highly flammable methane gas and the mud-like cement. Lacing the mud with nitrogen is lethal--it creates channels in the quick-dry cement, weakening its resistance against the explosive push of the methane. Had this disaster been publicized, the Gulf blowout would not have occurred. The nitrogen would have been subtracted from the mixture. Halliburton knew about that. Remember them? Cheney may have a new heart but no change of heart, but that's another story.

Those attempting to cover the event a few days after it happened, including famous Truth Sleuth Greg Palast, were arrested and then quickly released to avoid a diplomatic blowout. Two witnesses who suffered at the site of the blowout disappeared the way that whisteblowers tend to--it's either the front page or disappearance. I think that those in the latter case suffer even more. In Azerbaijan it's a daily occurrence.

So that's part of the news from Azerbaijan. What happened there is no longer a secret concealed by bribery and corruption by you-know-who. "The sea was bubbling all around [from boiling methane]," reported Palast, so that sending in lifeboats would have been dangerous. Deathboats? Bigger vehicles were needed.

BP did issue a press release, about a gas leak near a platform.

It did not add, nor foresee, that such negligence would lead to the biggest oil spill in US history and all the lethal damage that entailed.

When I warned in the above title that the civilization you destroy may be your own, I'm addressing not only Chevron-Texaco and BP. I mean all those in the one percent here and abroad to whom the value of indigent and destitute human life is worth a farthing compared to the mammoth profits that are wind to their sails.

Drill, baby, drill, or chill, baby, chill? They'd better be careful where they build their mansions. Soon not an inch of the land we occupy will be undefiled as we plunder every resource of Earth.

Will they do anything if one of their mansions or yachts is elevated skyward by a gusher? Doubt it.

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Marta Steele is an author/editor/blogger who has been writing for since 2006. She is also author of the 2012 book "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, (more...)

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