On Aug. 15 activists and community members from around the Bay Area will be joining Richmond residents to protest the Chevron corporation’s devastating environmental and human rights record around the world. They’ll be working with a coalition of dozens of social justice and environmental organizations, called the Mobilization for Climate Justice, to highlight and stop Chevron’s legacy of criminality. From faulty environmental impact reports for a dirty crude expansion and ongoing pollution in Richmond, to using the Nigerian military to murder environmental activists in the Niger Delta, to toxic waste sites and subsequent harm to human health (that dwarfs the Exxon-Valdez spill) in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Chevron is responsible for a substantial roster of injured people and denuded environments around the world—not the least of which are the lands and people of Iraq, which is why it’s important for anti-war activists to work with environmental and labor groups to oppose Chevron this August.
Anti-war groups should join the August demonstrations because Chevron is directly responsible for the war in Iraq. From the era of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship, Chevron has worked diligently to gain access to Iraqi oil. (The relationship started even earlier, following World War I, as Gulf Oil, which became Chevron, maneuvered to control Iraq’s oil in the Mandate period.) Since then it has created marketing agreements to sell Iraqi oil, working around the United States imposed sanctions with the UN Oil for Food program, deemed genocidal by two directors of the program who resigned is disgust. At the same time, Chevron illegally bribed Iraqi officials to sell oil outside of the program, making the government an estimated $11 billion, strengthening the dictatorship.
Chevron was also instrumental in preparing the illegal aggression and occupation of Iraq. Part of the infamous “Cheney Energy Task Force” that met just days after George W. Bush was inaugurated, the task force worked with the National Security Council to merge “operational policies toward rogue states” with “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.” Since the invasion Chevron has pushed heavily for production contracts and production sharing agreements through the failed Iraq Oil Law. Now western oil companies’ best hope to directly extract Iraqi oil is the second round of extraction and production negotiations set for November. All the while Chevron maintains its marketing agreements with Iraq, refining millions of barrels of Iraqi oil at its Richmond refinery, profiting from the US war and occupation.
Besides the direct ties to the Iraq war, there are other reasons for anti-war groups to work on climate change issues, namely, U.S. wars of aggression are often driven by our addiction to fossil fuels. As these resources deplete, the competition for them intensifies, furthering conflict and the resort to military “solutions.” The government spends trillions of dollars on the wars, and corporations reap record profits in the billions, while spending for social infrastructure, health care, schools, and investments to green our economy dwindle. Oil companies like Chevron profit from the wars, profit from the oil extraction, and profit while their actions heat the planet to unprecedented levels. Ultimately, ending the wars and cooling the planet are part of the same struggle, as unaccountable corporations poison our environment, disregard our future, and use government military intervention to acquire more oil. They must be stopped; at the top of the list is Chevron.
Please join us to protest Chevron at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Richmond BART station, 16th Street and MacDonald Avenue. For more information, see Actagianstclimate.
org/west and Actaginstwar.net.
Michael Reagan is a graduate student at the University of Washington and a UC Berkeley alumnus. He works with Direct Action to Stop the War in the Bay Area.