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Alec Baldwin: ‘Chevron seems like the Harvey Weinstein of petroleum companies’
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Published: 29 May 2020
This Article was Written by: Jarvis Smith - My Green Pod
Chevron Corporation’s annual shareholder meeting took place virtually this year in the midst of the global Coronavirus pandemic and a fossil fuel industry crisis.
In a highly unusual turn of events, prominent artists, actors and human rights leaders directly addressed Chevron’s chair and CEO Michael Wirth, plus members of Chevron’s board and senior management, at this year’s AGM.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the meeting was held online and shareholder resolutions were moved for a vote via audio submissions sent prior to the meeting.
Speaking on behalf of resolutions #9 and #10, respectively, were Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams and noted actor and producer Alec Baldwin.
In addition, legendary rock star and human rights activist Roger Waters addressed Chevron’s board and shareholders via a third audio message.
In the two decades since its year 2000 acquisition of Texaco, Chevron has never faced such prominent voices in opposition to its practices – especially from within its own shareholder meeting.
The three public figures recorded their messages to Chevron shareholders on behalf of Newground Social Investment, a Seattle-based financial advisory firm with clients who own Chevron stock.
Chevron and Weinstein
Alec Baldwin spoke passionately in a two-minute presentation that detailed the reasons why Chevron’s controversial RICO victory against human rights lawyer Steven Donziger does not protect it from liability in Ecuador.
He observed that pinning the company’s financial wellbeing on the luck of a single, discredited judge is an irresponsible way to manage the company.
He likened the strategy to Harvey Weinstein’s failed efforts to escape justice.
‘Harvey Weinstein thought that through intimidation and litigation he could avoid justice, but he now sits in jail. Chevron seems like the Harvey Weinstein of petroleum companies, and shareholders should be terribly concerned about a corporate strategy that appears to depend on luck not running out.’
Actor and producer
‘Do the right thing’
Jody Williams, who was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ban landmines and co-signed a recent statement to Chevron signed by 29 Nobel Laureates, noted that Chevron is acting directly counter to its stated ‘Chevron Way’ code of conduct.
‘Apparently, appropriate use of shareholder money and company reputation are not the focus, nor is reflecting the ‘Chevron Way’.
‘Using corporate money to retaliate and intimidate has been Chevron’s response, where it has spent a reported $2 billion fighting the case, which reveals the lengths to which it will go to prevail.’
Roger Waters, who visited the Ecuadorian Amazon in 2018 to observe firsthand the Chevron-Texaco toxic waste pits which continue to leach deadly chemicals into the local drinking water, made an appeal for Chevron to ‘do the right thing.’
Citing a story of wisdom he learned from his mother, his heartfelt appeal also included a plea to ‘call the dogs off Steven Donziger, a human rights lawyer who is being hounded by an unfair, unkind, unlawful judiciary. And it’s wrong.’
Chevron’s financial risk
Chevron faces severe financial risk resulting from unprecedented drops in oil prices, exacerbated by its inability to avoid multi-billion-dollar pollution liabilities in Ecuador.
At its 2020 Annual General Meeting of shareholders (AGM), Chevron management once again faced powerful shareholder opposition to its current practices.
Among the several resolutions before Chevron shareholders were two put forward by Newground Social Investment, each of which highlights Chevron’s $9.5 billion in liability to indigenous communities in Ecuador for what may be the largest oil-related environmental disaster to impact the Amazon.
‘The financial risk related to this well-known environmental disaster in the Ecuadorian Amazon continues to worry company shareholders. This despite management’s assertion that the judgment against it was obtained by fraud – a claim rejected by 29 appellate judges in Ecuador and Canada who have reviewed the matter.’
Chief executive of Newground
Shareholders and Ecuador
Chevron has reportedly spent several billion dollars on fees to pay some 60 law firms and a number of public relations firms to defend the claims from Ecuador.
Despite this, these concerns reached new heights at this year’s AGM as several prominent shareholder voices stood in opposition to company management.
Donziger, who played a major role in winning the Ecuador judgment, is entering his 10th month of house arrest on a pre-trial contempt order for refusing to hand over his laptop and phone – which contain privileged client communications – to Chevron lawyers. Donziger is thought to be the only lawyer in US history to be held on such grounds.
Chevron management appears to ignore the rising tide of growing international opposition to its stance on the Ecuador case.
This has continued to be a major issue for shareholders at a time when the company faces a litany of other problems that relate to climate change and growing global animosity toward the fossil fuel industry.