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Opposing Ecuador’s Remediation

After failing to clean up their oil operations for years, Ecuador’s state-owned oil company, Petroecuador, finally began to “fulfill their contract, their cleanup contract, with Texaco,” but plaintiffs’ lawyers worried (346 KB) that the cleanup efforts would “undermine [their] legal position.” They worried that the realistic budget of the Petroecuador remediation would undercut their ability to force a large judgment in the case. In an email with the subject line “WORRISOME,” Pablo Fajardo, the plaintiffs’ lead Ecuadorian counsel, warned that a newspaper was reporting that the remediation (encompassing an area far larger than the area at issue in the case), would cost an “extremely low” $96 million. Even this estimate was too high: Petroecuador recently announced plans to remediate all the existing sites in the Ecuadorian Amazon and estimated the cost would be only $70 million.

Fearful that Chevron would, in Fajardo’s words, “say that the state finally assumed its duty and is going to clean up what it ought to,” plaintiffs’ attorney Steven Donziger told Fajardo “to go to [Ecuadorian President Rafael] Correa to put an end to this (2.6 MB) s— once and for all.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyers recognized that they could not publicly oppose Petroecuador’s cleanup because they would “just look like a bunch of bigots[:] we claim that we are just looking for an environmental restoration, and we are opposing it.” (531 KB) So they once again lied, submitting a letter to the Lago Agrio court over the “independent” expert’s signature, requesting that the court order the government to halt remediation activities.

The plaintiffs’ own documents show that the lawyers have no plans to use any damages they receive for remediation, but rather long ago formulated a plan to “keep the proceeds out of Ecuador.”


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