Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) has had a busy week, defending its environmental record on three different fronts. Protests in Romania and the Ukraine have temporarily disrupted its operations, while Chevron has also started a RICO trial against the attorney who won an $18 billion verdict against them in Ecuador.
Chevron and Steven Donziger’s trial
Starting with the good news, the trial between Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) and New York attorney Steven Donziger started on Thursday, and while the trial won’t be over anytime soon, most people seem to think that Chevron is favored at the outset. Donziger initially sued Texaco regarding the environmental impact of its operations in Ecuador, and when Chevron bought Texaco it also inherited the lawsuit. Donziger won the trial in Ecuador, but Chevron alleges that he used fraud to do so. This trial is meant to prevent Donziger from having the verdict enforced by U.S. courts.
A cynic might think that Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) is just trying to evade responsibility, but a number of prominent lawyers and financiers who were originally working with Donziger on the case have cut ties with him. In particular, anti-trust lawyer Jeffrey Shinder left the case after he found out that Donziger had hired a consulting firm to write what was meant to be an impartial court document.
“I will leave it to others to make the legal conclusion as to whether it was fraudulent,” said Shinder. “But it was something, and I cannot say this with enough force, that I did not want my firm or myself associated with. I have never seen Steven Donziger since that day and I never want to see him again. That’s how strongly I felt about it.”
There are also allegations that Donziger used bribes and intimidation tactics to influence Ecuadorean officials.
Chevron halts shale gas exploration
On the other side of the world, Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) has halted shale gas exploration in Romania in the face of mounting protests.
“Chevron is committed to building constructive and positive relationships with the communities where we operate and we will continue our dialogue with the public, local communities and authorities on our projects,” the company said in a statement. But that commitment is being put to the test as protests are also gaining strength in Ukraine.
In both countries, there is a tension between locals who are concerned about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and governments who want to become less dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs.