New Orleans Hosts Environmental Case of Historic Proportions

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals hears oral arguments in international dispute worth $27 billion

NEW ORLEANS—Chevron Corporation, by way of its Texaco subsidiary, is embroiled in a more than decade’s long legal battle over alleged environmental damage in the Amazon rainforests of Ecuador. On Monday, as an outcome approaches in the Ecuadorian province of Lago Agrio, Chevron’s legal counsel were in New Orleans, arguing for access to evidence held in the United States.

The US District Court of Southern Texas ruled that the desired evidence was pertinent and ought to be available. However, the Ecuadorian plaintiffs are appealing this outcome to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The original alleged crimes – the release of toxic waste into and pollution of Amazon waterways – occurred during the 1972 to 1992 period, when Texaco earned net profits of $490 million from Ecuadorian activities. However, the current case did not begin until 2003, after Chevron had acquired the company and liability.

Now, with an expected judgment early in the New Year and a compensation assessment of $27.3 billion, the company is under immense pressure.

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Fergus Hodgson is the Capitol Bureau Reporter with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be contacted at [email protected], and one can follow him on twitter.



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