RICO

EELI’s Anti-EPA Suit Uses 'Exhibit A’ from Tobacco's RICO Loss

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup cross-posted from DailyKos.

Apologies dear reader, this is a long post. It’s worth reading, though, we promise!

With few exceptions (like this weak WSJ column), the folks defending Exxon from RICO accusations focus their attention on the free speech argument and avoid the tobacco comparison. But now one of their own, Dr. James Enstrom, has provided a painfully clear connection between the beleaguered industries.  

The Daily Caller carries the news that the Energy & Environment Legal Institute’s (EELI) latest attempt to waste its (probably coal) funders' money is a lawsuit against the EPA, claiming an independent review panel for air quality regulations isn’t actually independent. Their reason is that members of the panel have received funding from the EPA for past studies.

Obviously, that’s ridiculous, since public and private funding are vastly different in terms of conflict of interest.  

So what does a real conflict of interest look like? For a prime example, look no further than the plaintiffs EELI is representing: The Western States Trucking Association (WSTA) and Dr. James Enstrom. 

Canada’s Highest Court Gives Ecuadorians Green Light To Pursue Chevron Assets

Chevron lost a high-profile pollution case in Ecuador in 2011 and was ordered to pay $9.5 billion for cleanup of billions of gallons of toxic waste in the Amazon rainforest. So far, the company hasn’t paid a dime — but a recent ruling in Canada might finally force Chevron to pay up.

Chevron RICO Verdict Sets Dangerous Precedent For Activists

Last week, Chevron's RICO suit against the lawyers representing 30,000 Ecuadoreans impacted by the company's oil pollution in the Amazon came to its inevitable conclusion when the judge presiding over the case, Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York, ruled in Chevron's favor.

Yes, that's RICO as in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the law written so that mob bosses could be prosecuted for running their criminal empires.

Faced with a $9.5 billion judgement in Ecuador's courts, Chevron came back to the US and counter-sued under RICO statutes, essentially saying the organized opposition to its attempts to evade responsibility in Ecuador amounted to a criminal conspiracy.

Let that sink in for a minute: The lawyers who were trying to help 30,000 Indigenous villagers, farmers, and other poor, rural Ecuadoreans demand accountability from a multinational corporation with a $221.3 billion market cap were charged with corruption by that very same multinational corporation, and a US judge went along with it.

What this means is that the Ecuadoreans are barred from seeking Chevron assets in the US to force the company to pay the $9.5 billion. Chevron has refused to comply with the Ecuador court's ruling, even though Chevron itself argued that Ecuador was the proper jurisdiction for the lawsuit over its 18 billion gallons of oil pollution in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Since the Ecuadoreans had no plans of pursuing Chevron on its own turf, this ruling doesn't have much practical impact on the matter.

What Kaplan's ruling does do, however, is set a terrifying precedent for any company looking to evade responsibility for the consequences of its business operations.

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