Lago Agrio Plaintiffs’ Lawyers & Their Sham Science
The Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ lawyers have long used bogus science and fabricated technical “facts” to fool activists, journalists and others about environmental and health conditions in Ecuador’s Oriente region as part of their scheme to defraud Chevron. This section identifies the real science and sound academic research that debunk the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ lawyers’ most frequently repeated scientific falsehoods about Texaco’s legacy in the country.
1. CANCER MORTALITY IN ECUADOR’S OIL REGION IS SAME OR LOWER THAN OTHER REGIONS
There is No Cancer “Cluster” or Outbreak in Ecuador’s Oil-Producing Region
Ecuador collects detailed information about public health from cantons throughout the country, including both oil-producing and non-oil-producing regions. Those official statistics prove that the cancer mortality rate in Ecuador’s oil producing regions is the same or lower than in the regions of the Amazon where no oil production occurs. The cancer mortality rate in the oil producing regions also is lower than in Pichincha province, where Quito is located. In fact, despite comparing cancer data from regions with no oil production, low oil production, and high oil production, researchers found no relationship at all between oil operations and cancer in Ecuador. Click here to see a peer-reviewed article that analyzes Ecuador’s cancer-mortality statistics. Plaintiffs’ lawyers, on the other hand, sponsored a published study claiming to show a “cancer cluster” in the village of San Carlos, but as this peer-reviewed letter to the editor shows, that study used incorrect population data. When the population data was corrected, the plaintiffs’ lawyers’ study showed no increase in cancer. Furthermore, the plaintiffs have never submitted a single medical record or cancer diagnosis to the court.
2. INDIGENOUS POPULATION HAS GROWN SINCE TEXACO OPERATIONS BEGAN IN ECUADOR
Texaco Operations Did Not Cause Decline of Indigenous Populations or Extinction of Indigenous Groups
The populations of indigenous groups associated with the Lago Agrio trial – the Cofan, Siona-Secoya and Huaorani – all have increased since oil was discovered in Ecuador’s Amazon in the 1960s. This paper on demographic trends in indigenous populations examined all of the available population data and determined that since the 1960s, the population of each of those groups has grown as fast or faster than the population of Ecuador as a whole. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs’ claim that Texaco’s activities led to the extinction of a different indigenous group, the Tetete, is a. As this peer-reviewed paper explains, all available evidence indicates that by the time oil exploration began in the Oriente in the 1960s, the Tetete population already had been decimated by disease and warfare. The disappearance of the Tetete had nothing to do with oil operations.
3. NO OIL POLLUTION IN GROUNDWATER OR DRINKING WATER
Oil Operations Did Not Cause Groundwater or Drinking Water Contamination in the Former Concession Area
Despite repeated claims about massive hydrocarbons contamination of groundwater and drinking water in the vicinity of oil operations, plaintiffs’ lawyers have never provided evidence to substantiate this allegation. In fact, their own technical consultants and experts have admitted — in e-mails, letters, and sworn testimony and on videotape — that they don’t have evidence to back up the allegation. Those admissions, of course, are consistent with Chevron’s evidence at trial. They also are consistent with the findings in a peer-reviewed academic paper on the weathering of crude oil and actual groundwater data in Ecuador’s Oriente.
4. SOCIO-ECONOMICS BETTER IN OIL REGION
Indicators in the Oil-Producing Region Are Better Than Most of Rural Ecuador
These maps depicting actual conditions in the Oriente reveal that the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ lawyers’ claims on a host of socio-economic issues are wrong. In fact, socio-economic and health indicators for the former Petroecuador-Texaco Petroleum concession area are the same or better than those of most rural areas of Ecuador.
5. DEFORESTATION CAUSED BY FARMING
Rainforest Destruction in Ecuador’s Amazon Due to Agricultural Expansion, Not Oil Operations
Plaintiffs’ lawyers continue to blame Texaco for massive deforestation in the oil operations area even as all available data and academic research on the subject confirms that deforestation was the result of government-decreed colonization and expansion of the agricultural frontier from the 1960s to the 1980s. No academic who has seriously researched the issue blames oil development for state colonization policies that affected not only the rainforest but also the indigenous cultures inhabiting the region. Several papers and book chapters tell the real story of colonization and deforestation.
6. FALSE REMEDIATION COSTS
Lago Agrio Judgment’s Soil Remediation Costs Are 60 Times Higher Than in U.S.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers and the Lago Agrio judgment they ghost-wrote for the court call on Chevron to pay more than 60 times more for environmental remediation than what comparable work would cost in the U.S. (or for that matter what state-owned oil company Petroecuador now pays to perform the exact same remediation). This report explains the absurdity of the costs assessed by plaintiffs’ lawyers in the ghost-written judgment.