Chevron’s Dirty Legacy Felt from Brazil to the Bay Area

Chevron’s been making headlines recently, and not good ones.  The oil and gas giant is in deep water over a recent oil spill in Brazil and the company was the source of a massive explosion on August 6th at an oil refinery plant in Richmond, California, just miles from San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland.  The explosion resulted in a “shelter in place” order and sent hundreds of area residents to local hospitals complaining of shortness of breath and chest pain.

Chevron, however, continues to downplay each of these incidences.  In Brazil, the company has been appealing a case where an estimated 3,000 barrels of oil leaked into the ocean at Frade fields.  While the Brazilian government ruled the company is to pay $25 million in damages and cease production for a few months, the company argues that it “followed standard industry practices in response to the spill and that it is actively preparing to restart production at the Frade facility.”

Back in California, the company hosted a town hall meeting the night after the Richmond explosion in an attempt to defray concern, even offering to compensate victims of the blowout.  In the end, however, no matter how many town hall meetings are held or how much money is dished out to suffering residents, the company will continue to go on with business as usual.  Of course, the incident does mean that gas prices will rise to over $4 a gallon on the west coast as this particular refinery, one of the largest in the nation, produces about 150,000 barrels of gasoline a day, the equivalent to 16 percent of the region’s daily gasoline consumption.

Nonetheless, the bigger picture rings loud and clear: the fight for environmental justice, renewables and cleaner energy alternatives remains a difficult and bought-out uphill battle, both in the Bay Area, Brazil and beyond.  When oil spills or refinery explosions happen, there is immediate public outcry and rage, but, in time, people return to their daily lives, much of which, ironically, involves consuming various forms of fossil fuel.  It’s a personal and economic conundrum to say the least and companies like Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and BP remain some of the richest entities on Earth, with profits continuing to soar in the face of climate change and social injustice.

If this fact bothers you, or better yet, if it infuriates you, then great!  I suggest starting by letting your representatives know how you feel while re-thinking your daily consumer habits.  Where you put your dollar does a lot and spreading the word to your social networks about healthier life choices, carpooling, taking public transit, etc, is an immediate and enpowering way to make positive change.

You can also go further and retrofit your house or apartment with solar panels and/or get an energy efficiency upgrade, thereby requiring you to use less energy in the first place.  And yes, simple things like turning the lights off, switching to CFLs and wearing layers in the winter goes a long way, especially if we all do it.  Saving money and saving the planet equals a win-win, and these are just a few examples; there’s much you can do to be a smart shopper when it comes to energy consumption.

So until we have a world that’s greener and cleaner, do your part and don’t feel overwhelmed about Chevron’s dirty legacy, although it indeed stinks.  Instead, feel empowered to use these unfortunate examples to make a positive change for yourself and for our planet.

Related Stories:

Fire At Chevron Plant Sends Residents to Hospital with Breathing Problems

Success! Chevron Ordered to Pay $19 Billion for Environmental Damages

Oil Sands Fever and Lack of Environmental Review

Photo Credit: steevithak


Kelly Rogers
Kelly R6 years ago

ty for this story.

Michael Kirkby
.6 years ago

Same old story as usual.

Becky Y.
Rebecca Y6 years ago

Incidences like these prompt me to believe that oil companies are careless because with these incidences they simply up the price of oil and gas! What they pay out in lawsuits is nothing compared to the amount they make on what they charge each of us at the pump! I have no faith in government to stop their plundering just as I have no faith that government will not stop glorifying guns.

Elaine McAuliffe
Elaine McAuliffe6 years ago

No matter how much we correct our over use of fossil fuels, these companies will continue to profit from "corporate welfare" thanks to the politicians who receive outlandish contributions, etc from the fossil fuel industry.

J Roth
J R6 years ago

They always say they follow "practices" . If they did the spill would not have occurred in the first place.
Their lack about their practices, and then dish out whatever they want to say to make it go away.

Edith B.
Edith B6 years ago

Until we move away from big oil for energy we will continue to be polluted by their spills and fires. The bottom line for oil companies is profit and they really don't care what they do to us or the earth.

Monica D.
Monica D6 years ago

Thank you for this article. I think that your paragraph about the big picture is very important. It is an uphill and bought-out battle.

I recommend that everyone watches Annie Leonard's new video "The Story of Change". We need to mobilise and march.

Polarbeargal A.
Georgia a6 years ago

TO DAVE C: The oil companies will NEVER stop being concerned with profits today and work towards saving the Earth for tomorrow. They don't have to. It seems they have a pass to do any damned thing they wish....and get away with it. Now they're headed for the Arctic to begin drilling where any sane individual knows a spill cannot be cleaned up. NO OIL COMPANY has any business in the Arctic. That area should remain pristine for all time. There also should be none of the giant fisheries allowed in that area. It seems to me there should be ONE SPOT on this planet that is not ruined by the Greed of the big corporations but it looks like I'm going to be proven wrong.

Dave C.
David C6 years ago

time to stop being concerned with profits today and work to save the earth for all costs that aren't hurting pollution energy now!

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V6 years ago

We are murding our planet, thus ourselves.