|Asunto:||[LEA-Venezuela] (En Ingles) Petroleo, OMC y globalizacion|
|Fecha:||Lunes, 3 de Diciembre, 2001 11:38:12 (-0400)|
|Autor:||Interfaz Amazonica <interfaz @.....net>
Oye, Edinson, realmente siento no tener el tiempo suficiente en estos dias
para traducir estas cosas en Ingles para ti y los otros compañeros de LEA
que no leen ingles..., entre los problemas de salud de mi alergia a la
sabana y la supervivencia economica, debo estar mucho tiempo haciendo cosas
de mi trabajo y no en cosas voluntarias como hacia antes cuando vivia en
Caracas, la vida en esta frontera es dura, muy dura.
Se me ocurre que si todos los de LEA dieramos un pequeño aporte monetario,
quizas el coordinador de la Lista podria administrar eso para contratar un
traductor para ciertos articulos importantes, lo cual podriamos decidir
entre todos cuales son lo suficientemente importantes como para gastar
dinero en traducirlos... Por ejemplo: si hay 200 personas en la lista y cada
una da 500 Bs mensuales, ¡500 bolos que no es nada!, tendriamos 100.000 Bs.
mensuales para pagar a un traductor de oficio ciertas traducciones... No se,
ideas que se me ocurren.
Drillbits & Tailings
Volume 6, Number 9
November 30, 2001
Amid protest around the globe the World Trade Organization (WTO) met
this November in Doha, Qatar an isolated dictatorship on the
Persian/Arabian Sea. This was the first meeting of the WTO since the
Millennium Round collapsed in Seattle two years ago under internal
pressure from Southern countries and external pressure from broad
sections of civil society. The meeting intended to start up negotiations
on investment, competition policy, government procurement and trade
facilitation, but fell short of that objective. In this issue of
Drillbits & Tailings we have provided an overview of how Oil, the WTO
and globalization are linked and how one oil corporation Chevron, now
ChevronTexaco, has played a role in pushing forward the agenda of the
WTO and the creation of a global trade regime.
"We are writing the constitution of a single global economy." -- Renato
Ruggiero, former Director-General of the WTO - (SEE: "Oil, the World
Trade Organization & Globalization")
+ Oil, the World Trade Organization & Globalization
+ ChevronTexaco's Role in the Creating the Global Trade Regime
+ Ghanaian Communities Hit Hard by Two Cyanide Spills
DIARY: COMMUNITY VOICES: Letter to ChevronTexaco from Communities in
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Demand Justice for Mapuche Youth Brutally Repressed for
Protesting Against REPSOL
HOTSPOTS: Bougainville, Burma, China, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea,
Philippines, United States
VITAL STATISTICS: 15 Largest US Government Subsidies to the Oil Industry
COMMUNITY PIPELINE: Contacts, Reports, Websites
OIL, THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION AND GLOBALIZATION
The World Trade Organization (WTO), formed in 1995 by an agreement among
125 countries, is an international organization whose central operating
principle is that global economic interests (trade and profit) are above
all other interests, including human rights, culture and environment.
Membership in the WTO has expanded to 135 countries and representatives
are appointed by their respective governments. It has become a powerful
engine behind the creation of an enforceable global economy based on
corporate-managed trade, called 'globalization'. This process strips
communities of control over their local economies and attempts to
redefine prosperity as corporate profit.
The WTO was given powers far greater than any international body has
ever had and it uses those powers to dismantle democratic processes that
act in the interest of human rights, indigenous peoples, worker's
rights, environmental protection, cultural preservation, sovereignty and
social justice. The processes are often labeled as impediments to "free
WHAT OIL HAS TO DO WITH THE WTO
Fossil Fuels are the life-blood of Globalization. Oil and gas are the
backbone of capital-intensive industrial production as they are the
energy source for transportation, for industry, and for mechanized
Oil companies, which control the extraction, transportation, refinement
and distribution of fossil fuels, had a global reach long before public
talk of a global trade regime ever emerged. U.S.- based corporations are
the leading international suppliers of oil and gas sector services and
The extraction of 'third world' oil by U.S. and Western European- based
companies for Northern markets has been a long standing mechanism for
taking resources from the people of less industrialized countries and
converting them into wealth reserved primarily for corporate interests
based in industrialized countries. This process has little to no benefit
for these "resource colonies" from which the natural resources are
extracted. Furthermore, the model of "development" pushed on the global
South by globalization forces such as the WTO, the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and USAID, is one of greater resource
extraction and consumption.
While the WTO is the main engine behind globalization, what we are
seeing is the creation of "parallel" charters developed on a regional
basis, such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the North
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and on an industry-by-industry
basis, such as the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT).
One of the explicit aims of the ECT is to apply WTO trade rules to
non-WTO member nations, excluding provisions to favor developing
countries. These rules would apply to all aspects of the energy industry
from the exploration and extraction of fossil fuels to the distribution
of refined fuels, such as gasoline, at the local level, thus eliminating
the possibility of democratic control over resources.
UNDUE INFLUENCE: OIL INDUSTRY INTERESTS IN TRADE POLICY
We can be sure that the U.S. Trade Representatives to the WTO meetings
will be representing the interests of the oil industry. Under the
Bush-Cheney Energy plan, explains Abid Aslam of Foreign Policy In Focus,
a US-based publication, "the governments of countries targeted by U.S.
and other foreign investors would be pressured to remove all legal and
regulatory impediments to the corporations' abilities to own or operate
everything from drilling platforms, pipelines, and refineries to
neighborhood gas stations. What's more, foreign governments would need
to ensure that local business, environmental, health, and labor
regulations don't interfere with profit maximization."
This strategy by the Bush-Cheney energy plan is not surprising, given
that the U.S. International Trade Administration's Energy Advisory
Committee is made up of representatives of giant oil, gas, mining and
utility corporations including ChevronTexaco, Halliburton and Enron,
with absolutely no representation of labor, consumer or environmental
MAKING THE RULES, CHEATING THE PEOPLE
One of the most devastating impacts of the WTO-led regime is the
imposition of rules through the General Agreement on Trade in Services
(GATS) and Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMS). These rules would
forbid countries from limiting foreign ownership, or favoring local over
foreign companies, and would forbid countries from barring trade
activity based on health, safety, environmental or human rights
Oil corporations could use the WTO not only to weaken existing
protections but also to deter efforts by countries to introduce any new
protections for fear of facing trade sanctions, or being challenged in
the world trade court, a costly and undemocratic process which has
almost never favored the needs and rights of the people over corporate
In every case but one, the WTO has ruled against environmental
protection and health and safety standards. Since the oil industry is
one of the most toxic, environmentally destructive, and abusive it
stands to gain considerable footing under ever-expanding globalization.
In fact, the first ruling of the WTO held that regulations under the
U.S. Clean Air Act, which set high standards against polluting gasoline,
were non-compliant with WTO rules. It was ruled unfair to foreign oil
companies whose oil did not meet the standard. The U.S. government
rewrote the regulations in compliance with the WTO ruling. Clean-air is,
according to the WTO, an unfair barrier to trade.
THE RESOURCE CURSE
The vast majority of nations that have "struck oil," have ended up worse
off. For example, most major oil-producing "developing" or "less
industrialized" countries were either bankrupt or crippled by government
corruption, or both, within a couple of decades of striking oil.
Economists Jeffery Sachs and Andrew Warner point out in essay entitled
"Natural Resource Abundance and Economic Growth," that since World War
II, all nations in which natural resources are the predominant export
have experienced slower growth than their resource-poor counterparts.
"The oddity of resource-poor economies outperforming resource-rich
economies has been a constant motif of economic history."
Particularly in oil-rich developing countries, rising income appears to
encourage poor short-term policy decisions. Either the income reduces
the state's accountability to its citizens, or the new industry forces
decisions that favor oil generated income, at the expense of more
balanced economic planning. The result is corruption, bankruptcy,
sometimes revolution -- but in all cases a dramatic decline in social
welfare and economic health.
SOURCE: Project Underground, November 2001, for a full text of this
factsheet go to:
"Invisible Government," by Debi Barker and Jerry Mander, The
International Forum on Globablization, October 1999.
CHEVRONTEXACO'S ROLE IN CREATING THE GLOBAL TRADE REGIME
The power of oil corporations such as ChevronTexaco over the communities
they operate in, pollute, and repress, depends on access to financial,
military and governmental power. They find that power by working in
coordination with governmental leaders, military commanders and
international financial institutions. These sources of power are
concentrated in the industrialized countries, also referred to as the
global North, coordinated by institutions such as the World Trade
Organization (WTO), the U.S. Department of Defense, the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the Group of Eight industrialized
CHEVRONTEXACO FUNDS USA*ENGAGE
USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of 670 corporations and pro-corporate
organizations that lobbies against any restrictions to trade, especially
international sanctions. USA*ENGAGE has fought for years against human
rights- and democracy- based limits on corporate trade and investment,
such as sanctions against military dictatorships and repressive regimes.
Chevron and Texaco even busted sanctions against the racist Apartheid
government of South Africa up through the 1980's.
The efforts of groups such as USA*ENGAGE would make it illegal for
local, state or national governments to pass laws which considered
international business practices, such as doing business with repressive
governments, a criteria for government contracts.
For example, the National Free Trade Council (NFTC), of which
ChevronTexaco is also a member, took the State of Massachusetts to court
for passing a law, which declared that the State would not provide
government contracts to companies doing business with the military
dictatorship in Burma.
In 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the State of
Massachusetts's law and in favor of unrestrained "free trade." This
ruling limits the ability of the people to use their elected government
to support democracy. These precedents are exactly what are being
promoted by the WTO-led global trade regime.
CHEVRONTEXACO SUPPORTS USA TRADE
The Fast Track to greater global inequality and less democracy, USA
TRADE is a corporate lobbying effort that is currently being used to
push for unreviewable, "Fast Track" trade negotiating authority to the
President. "Fast Track" exempts the President from having trade
negotiations reviewed, provision by provision, by Congress. Instead,
Congress will only be able to vote up or down entire trade deals.
With "Fast Track" authority, corporations like ChevronTexaco will
continue to sit on government trade advisory panels and will continue to
review trade agreements like the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA),
while elected representatives of the public can not.
CHEVRONTEXACO'S PARTICIPATION IN SECRET MEETINGS - GLOBALIZATION WITHOUT
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are two major
forces behind globalization. IMF rules have restructured the economies
of more than 130 countries, and World Bank projects affect the lives of
billions. Those countries most affected, in the global South, have the
least say in their decisions, while behind the scenes the banks make
plans in cooperation with Northern corporations.
For example, the Chad-Cameroon pipeline, a 620-mile oil pipeline being
built by ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and Petronas, is now the largest
infrastructure project on the continent of Africa and was planned
without regard for the concerns of affected communities. So far, the
project has strengthened Chadian dictator Idriss Deby, funded new
weapons purchases by his regime, and begun the pattern of displacement,
disease and prostitution that has marked oil development in Africa.
The ChevronTexaco-led West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) is another
example of secret cooperation between international globalization
institutions and major oil companies. The WAGP would take natural gas
from the Niger Delta through Benin and Togo to be finally used in Ghana
to fuel, primarily, toxic gold mining.
From 1996 to 1999, the World Bank funded initial studies of the project
without ever consulting the communities that would be affected. In March
2000, the communities finally held their own consultation meeting, but
despite their promises, officials from Chevron and the Nigerian National
Petroleum Corporation did not attend.
Vice President Dick Cheney's White House panel on national energy policy
had private meetings with executives of oil, natural gas, electricity,
nuclear power and energy infrastructure companies. The panel made around
150 recommendations on areas ranging from refinery regulation to
drilling in wilderness lands. Community groups have decried the panel
and its meetings as an example of a private "oiligarchy" making public
decisions, while Democrats have raised concerns that energy firms that
donate to Republicans have had greater access than other firms.
Cheney refused to provide Congress with a list of private sector
representatives who advised the panel. However, Cheney's close
association with ChevronTexaco makes it exceedingly likely that
ChevronTexaco interests were well represented on the panel. The panel
endorsed the Chad-Cameroon Oil Pipeline, The West African Gas Pipeline,
and Caspian Sea oil development, all key ChevronTexaco priorities.
GLOBAL DESTRUCTION - MEGA-MERGERS and MEGA-COVERUPS
The recent merger of Chevron and Texaco to form ChevronTexaco is typical
of the consolidation of wealth and power that has been taking place in
the oil industry. The US$100 billion merger makes ChevronTexaco the 2nd
largest U.S.- based oil company, after ExxonMobil, and a significantly
more powerful economic force than many of the national economies of the
Both corporations have been under pressure to clean up their acts from
affected communities around the world - be it indigenous peoples of
Ecuador, Nigeria and Alaska on the frontline of extraction, or people
living near refineries in Richmond, California. The consolidation of
Chevron and Texaco's power makes it even harder to hold these companies
DESTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT - ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE
ChevronTexaco extracts hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil from the
Niger Delta in Nigeria every year despite decades of resistance by the
people of the Delta. In Opia, one community of the Delta, ChevronTexaco
has destroyed the traditional local economy, run pipelines through
gardens and villages and leased helicopters to the military to attack
Though ChevronTexaco profits heavily from its unwelcome operations in
the Delta and has provided both dollars and infrastructure to the
Nigerian military, which uses those resources to suppress resistance and
kill activists, ChevronTexaco claims no responsibility for the
environmental or human rights problems. While all meaningful quality of
life measures continue to indicate that the plight of the people of the
Niger Delta gets worse and worse, the corporation continues to claim
that their operations promote democracy and development.
In Richmond-less than 100 miles from a suburban California compound
which will soon house the ChevronTexaco corporate headquarters, the
company operates an oil refinery, which dumps millions of pounds of
dioxins on the largely African American, Latino and South East Asian
community. Dioxins, the most toxic group of synthetic chemicals known,
cause cancer, birth defects and a host of other health problems.
ChevronTexaco refuses the reasonable demand by the community for zero
dioxin emissions from the refinery. The residents of Richmond also want
the refinery to implement a meaningful Industrial Safety Ordinance to
protect workers and residents from frequent and sometimes deadly
refinery accidents. The corporation also refuses to provide compensation
to affected residents for known health impacts of the toxic refinery.
SOURCE: Project Underground, November 2001, for full text of this
factsheet go to:
GHANAIN COMMUNITIES HIT HARD BY TWO CYANIDE SPILLS
Hunger and disease have become an imminent threat for communities in
Ghana's Western Region who have recently been hit by two major cyanide
spills. Only two weeks after a tailings dam broke and spilled mine waste
into the river Asuman another spill occurred near the village of Kubekro
at a mine operated by Satellite Goldfields. The cyanide-laced tailings
were spilled into an important marshland that provided the local people
with mud fish, local medicines and bamboo for a wide range of uses and
that is host to a spectacular array of plant and animal species.
For the village of Abekoase the October 16 spill from the Tarkwa mine
has been disastrous. Thousands of cubic metres of mine wastewater flowed
into the river Asuman when a tailings dam ruptured, contaminating it
with cyanide and heavy metals. It has been reported that hundreds of
dead fish, crabs and birds have littered the banks of the river while
others float on its surface.
"People in the villages of Abekoase and Huni have lost their clean
drinking water and their livelihood as they can no longer sell or eat
produce from their farms through which the river runs. Goldfields should
not hide from their responsibility for damages, we need to demand
compensation for those directly affected by mining disasters," said
Daniel Owusu Koranteng, executive director of the local mine watch
organization Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM)
based in the Wassa West district where the spill occurred. The
communities are demanding not only for compensation but also for total
A coalition of NGOs have accused the Ghanaian government of
marginalizing and trivializing the concerns of local communities and
favoring Goldfields, the South Africa-based mining company which
operates the Tarkwa mine. The coalition is made up of the Third World
Network- Africa (TWN), Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), League of
Environmental Journalists (LEJ) and the WASSA Association of Communities
Affected By Mining (WACAM).
Ghana was once hailed by the World Bank as a showcase for its policies.
Today, after two decades of financial "discipline" the majority of
Ghanaians are worse off than before. Gold is Ghana's biggest source of
export income. For decades multi-national mining companies have had a
free access to the country. The government, urged on by international
lending institutions like the World Bank, gives the companies tax
"holidays" of up to ten years and keeps environmental and other
regulation to a minimum.
Two thirds of all Ghanaian land is under concessions. Everywhere you go,
you see huge cavities in the ground, discarded pits where thriving
villages once stood and where nothing now grows. People have been forced
off their farming land, losing their only source of income.
BBC reporter John Kampfner met Peter Harrold, World Bank representative
in Ghana shortly after the September 11 attacks in New York and
Washington. In his interview with Kampfner, Harrold identified a link
between poverty, frustration and terrorism saying, "there's a serious
danger. The North is getting richer and the South getting poorer, or at
least making minute progress. The disparities cannot continue going on
in this way."
Describing the disaster at Abekoase as "unprecedentedly serious" Joshua
Awuku Appau of the Accra, Ghana-based Greenearth organization said the
use of cyanide in gold mining poses an unacceptable risk to human health
and the environment.
"There is the need for long term monitoring program along the whole
river system, but there is still a risk of another catastrophe as long
as cyanide is being kept behind a dam, which is often too weak. This is
unacceptable, and the mining industry must learn that clean rivers and
healthy ecosystems are more precious than gold," Awuku stressed.
SOURCES: "Profits of doom," by John Kampfner, BBC, November 2, 2001;
"Ghana; NGOs Criticise Gov't Handling of Cyanide Spillage," Ghanaian
Chronicle, November 21, 2001; "Another Cyanide Spillage in Ghana," by
Mike Anane, FIAN Coordination Ghana; "Ghana: Cyanide Spill Worst
Disaster Ever in West African Nation," by Mike Anane, Environment News
Service, October 24, 2001. "Environment-Ghana: Gold Mine Spills Cyanide
in River - Again," by Linus Atarah, InterPress Services, November 1,
DIARY: COMMUNITY VOICES: Letter to ChevronTexaco from Communities in
November 5, 2001
We write to you from the province of Esmeraldas, in Ecuador, as the
committee of those affected by environmental destruction.
We would like to explain to you that our city is a zone that is situated
near the north coast of Ecuador on the Pacific Ocean. Esmeraldas, with
500,000 inhabitants, was a tropical paradise of abundance and well
being, until the infrastructure of the petroleum industry arrived in our
city in 1970.
Along with the construction of the pipeline and the petroleum terminal
in Balao, built by TEXACO, a refinery was also built to process the
petroleum, which the company extracted.
These petroleum facilities have brought destruction, poverty,
displacement and malnutrition to the people of Esmeraldas, as well as
huge environmental disasters with incalculable consequences, which have
submerged our province in terrible misery.
The SOTE (Trans-Ecuadorian Oil-Pipeline System) and the petroleum
terminal of BALO have been abandoned by TEXACO. They are a time bomb -
the local population lives permanently with the risk of breaches and the
possibility of fires.
The Esmeraldians have paid for the irresponsibility of TEXACO with our
own lives. Many spills and fires have been produced. People have
burned to death and some have disappeared in these tragic events.
Esmeraldas is a city of black and mulatto people, which has been
impoverished by the petroleum activities of TEXACO, because it took away
our natural subsistence, the jungle, the clean waters of the rivers and
the ocean, which was once full of animals which gave us food. TEXACO
did not care at all, it cared nothing for our lives, we black
Ecuadorians. This is a clear example of environmental racism. Now that
Chevron and Texaco are one company, Chevron has inherited the
responsibility for the damages and the assaults that our people suffer
on a daily basis.
Our counterparts in the Environmental Justice Movement in the United
States have visited our land and have shared with us their experiences
with the contamination caused by one of the refineries of CHEVRON.
Despite the fact that we are separated by thousands of kilometers, we
are united with one single objective, which is to demand respect of our
rights: to life, to a sane and ecologically sound environment, and to
live free from environmental racism.
With the merger of Texaco and Chevron, two monsters have joined
together, which have committed environmental and social crimes
throughout the world, which deserve punishment and the censure of the
entire world for their irresponsible actions in the treatment of this
planet. Therefore, we have united the struggles of the peoples of the
United States and Ecuador, and this union of brothers will not permit
that this two-headed monster continue to operate with impunity.
Mr. Director, we wish to make clear to you, that in Ecuador and the
United States, the people are organized and united like a single fist.
We are in the world for the defense of life and we will struggle
together until the final consequences, to see our people free of
contamination and to see our rights respected.
Jose Luis Guevara
Committee of the Affected
Province of Esmeraldas
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Demand Justice for Mapuche Youth Brutally Repressed for
Protesting Against REPSOL
On October 12, 2001, some thirty policemen attacked about thirty young
people aged 6 to 17, to prevent them from painting slogans on the walls
of the Spanish oil company, REPSOL-YPF in Neuquen, Argentina. During
the clashes that followed, several youth were reportedly beaten with
sticks and punched. The crowd of youths was protesting the gradual
contamination of the water tables in their region, which in turn was
poisoning their community.
The Mapuche community is settled in the Loma de la Lata zone which
contains the large gas and petroleum deposits being exploited by REPSOL.
A study carried out by the under-secretary for Health in Neuquen
indicates that Mapuche living in the Loma de la Lata region, and
particularly children and elderly people, are the victims of high
concentrations of heavy metals, mainly lead, in their blood and their
urine. This is allegedly due to the fact that drinking water, plant
matter and animals are all contaminated. The children of the community
suffer problems of concentration, progressive loss of eyesight, painful
joints and kidney complaints.
Please write letters to the Authorities in Argentina asking them to:
1. To take all the necessary measures to guarantee the physical and
psychological integrity of the Mapuche community.
2. To take all the necessary measures so that Mapuche children can live
in a state of health that guarantees their survival and development.
3. To ensure that the rights contained in the UNICEF Convention on the
Rights of the Child are applied without discrimination against the
4. In general, to guarantee respect of human rights and fundamental
freedoms in compliance with national laws and international standards,
and particularly with the UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child.
H.E. Doctor Fernando De la Rua, Presidente de la Republica, Casa Rosada,
Balcarce 50, Buenos Aires, CF Argentina;
FAX: (+ 54-11) 331 6376, (+ 54-11) 4344-3789, (++54 11) 4334-3700/3800;
EMAIL: postmaster@..., Spyd@...
Dr. Jorge Enrique de la Rua, Ministro de Justicia y Derechos Humanos,
Ministerio de Justicia, Sarmiento 329 5 piso, Buenos Aires, Argentina;
FAX: (+ 54-11) 4328-5395.
Dr. Domingo F. Cavallo, Minister of the Economy, Ministerio de la
Economia, Buenos Aires, Argentina;
Don Rafael Manuel Pascual, Presidente de Honorable Camara de Diputados,
Av. Rivadavia 1864, Buenos Aires, Argentina;
FAX: (+ 54-11) 4954-1085
Subsecretaria de Derechos Humanos, Ministerio del Interior, Casa de
Gobierno, Balcarce 50, Buenos Aires, Argentina;
Doctor Julio Salvador Nazareno, Presidente Corte Suprema de Justicia de
Argentina, Buenos Aires Argentina;
FAX: (+ 54 11) 437 11 540, (+ 54 11) 43710721.
Sr. Ministro del Interior, Casa de Gobierno, Balcarce 50, Buenos Aires,
FAX :(+54-11) 331 7354, (+ 54-11) 3129328
Defensor del Pueblo de la Nacion, Dn. Eduardo Mondino, Montevideo 1244,
C1018ACB Ciudad de Buenos Aires;
FAX: (+ 54-11) 48 19 1581
Human Rights Secretariat, Subsecretaria de Derechos Humanos, Dra. Alicia
Pierini, Ministerio del Interior, Moreno 71 1 piso 5, Buenos Aires C.F.,
FAX: (+ 54-11) 343 2326.
Please also write to the diplomatic representatives of Argentina in your
SOURCE: World Organisation Against Torture - Case ARG 261001.EE/ESCRC,
October 29, 2001
BOUGAINVILLE: The US State Department has attempted to derail a lawsuit
filed by Bougainvillean landowners against the mining giant RioTinto,
which alleges genocide and environmental damage in operating the giant
Panguna copper mine on the Papua New Guinea island. In an unprecedented
move, the US State Department has written to the judge hearing the case
saying that if the class action suit goes ahead, it would affect US
relations with PNG. The PNG government is trying to block the lawsuit,
saying it could derail the peace process on Bougainville. (Australian
Broadcasting Corporation, November 30, 2001)
BURMA: Members of the US-based union the International Brotherhood of
Teamsters are demanding that Amereda Hess, a US-based corporation drop
its stake in UK-based Premier Oil. The Hess Teamsters, wearing stickers
which read "Hess out of Burma," argue the company is supporting brutal
forced labour and the suppression of democracy in Burma through its
stake in Premier. Around 300 Teamsters - the majority of whom are
truckers in the northeast US and South Carolina - have joined in the
protest by sending in "an appeal for justice" to Hess. The
Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade (ICFTU) and its
"Global Unions" partners released a list of 250 companies with business
links to Burma. The ICFTU said the move could help convince companies to
pull out of Burma, thereby pressuring the junta to comply with ILO
standards which treat forced labour and slavery as crimes of
international law. (ICFTU Press, November 15, 2001; Upstream, October
CHINA: Eleven tonnes of the chemical sodium cyanide leaked into the
Luohe River after a lorry transporting it to a local gold mine was
involved in a road accident late October. Two dams were built across the
river, about 75km (50 miles) upstream to contain the spill from
spreading to the industrial city of Luoyang, and officials say so far
they believe they have the situation under control. Some 500 tonnes of
disinfectant are reported to have been poured into the tributary in an
attempt to nullify the affects of the cyanide, yet this is still likely
to have damaging consequences for the local environment. The Luo River
is a branch of the Yellow River, the main waterway in northern China.
Local media said the drivers of the truck fled after the crash without
warning authorities and the local government learned of the spill only
after receiving reports of dead cattle. (BBC, November 5, 2001;
PlanetArk, November 7, 2001,
NIGERIA: An oil pipeline owned by the Royal Dutch Shell exploded,
killing as many as 15 people and injuring 14 others. The explosion
occurred at Umidike in Imo State on November 5. Ironically, Shell
Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in October, called for the
introduction of a national environmental and safety standard in the
Nigerian oil and gas industry that meets international standards.
Meanwhile the Nigerian government has set up a special committee to
ensure total security for oil producing areas, noting that the siege on
the oil producing areas by 'restive youths, communal agitators and
economic saboteurs' must end. This signals an alarming increase in
militarization against communities who are impacted severely by oil
exploitation in the Niger Delta. Chief Ekaette explained that the recent
'terrorism' had made the assured security of oil installations an urgent
imperative. Felix Ekure, Delta State chairman of the National Youth
Council of Nigeria (NYCN), has warned that unless the youths of the
Niger Delta are carried along in the development of the region, the
country may know no peace. (Reuters, November 15, 2001; Financial
Standard (Lagos), November 12, 2001; Vanguard (Lagos). November 9, 2001;
Africa News Service, October 15, 2001)
PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Communities affected by the Ok Tedi mine owned by BHP
Billiton blockaded and shut down the mine on November 25 costing the
company close to US$1 million. Representative from the 4 communities
living near the mine presented a petition demanding compensation and a
share of BHP Billiton's 52 per cent stake in Ok Tedi to be transferred
to them and for compensation of environmental damage since the mine was
opened in 1981. The PNG government last month refused a request from
local landowners to grant them 12 per cent of the benefits from the
Program Trust Company, where BHP Billiton's interest in the mine will be
transferred when the company quits the mine early next year. (AAP
Information Services Pty. Ltd, November 26, 2001)
PHILIPPINES: President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has denied a
30-billion-peso nickel mining project in Mindoro, by Crew Development
citing environmental concerns. Environment Secretary Heherson Alvarez
said the President concurred with the Department of Environment and
Natural Resource's (DENR) assessment that the mining operations of the
Canada-based Crew Development Corp. would inflict "irreparable damage to
the environment. The President sustained our observation that the
Aglubang mining project of Crew transcends the threshold of sustainable
development because of technical and social evidence," Alvarez told
reporters. According to Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources in July cancelled a
permit given to the mine by the previous administration, a first in the
Philippines. The company appealed to the office of the President with a
lot of support from the Canadian Ambassador and threatened a lawsuit
against the government if their permit was not returned. (Inquirer New
Service, November 1, 2001; pers. Comm. Catherine Coumans)
Alaska: A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that the
US$5 billion fine, ordered by a U.S. District Court jury in 1994 at the
close of a summer-long civil trial against ExxonMobil, was excessive.
The ruling stunned and angered Alaskans who had sued ExxonMobil for
punitive damages from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. About 40,000
fishermen, Native communities, property owners, and others were affected
by 10.8 million gallons (40.9 million liters) of oil spilled by athe
Valdez owned by Exxon. Many plaintiffs were counting on payments from
the punitive verdict to help heal various problems, including a
deteriorating fishing economy. A six-year study conducted by the Prince
William Sound Science Center an Alaska-based nonprofit, reopened the
question of a link between the spill and an unprecedented herring
population crash in 1993, historic lows today and the 11 million gallons
of oil the Exxon Valdez dumped 12 years ago. The study was a part of a
US$3 million federally funded project to assess the health of herring
populations in Prince William Sound. (Anchorage Daily News, November
16, 2001; Reuters, November 8, 2001)
California: Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton announced that her
Department will rewrite a legal opinion made by former Interior
Secretary Babbitt who denied the highly controversial Imperial Project
gold mine in Imperial County California to protect archaeological,
religious and cultural resources sacred to the Quechan Tribe and other
Colorado River peoples. According to Roger Flynn, a lawyer for the
Western Mining Action Project, the motion does not approve the mine, but
it will allow the BLM under Norton's leadership to reconsider it.
"Today's [October 25, 2001] announcement is an affront to all American
Indians. It indicates the direction this Department may be headed in
implementing executive orders and handling trust assets so important to
Indian peoples. They appear destined to break another promise - their
promise to protect this sacred area from certain destruction. This is an
outrage," stated Mike Jackson, Sr., President of the Quechan Tribal
Council. (Pers. Comm. Roger Flynn, Western Mining Action Project,
November 30, 2001; Press Release, Quechan Tribal Council, et al, October
WISCONSIN: Communities and environmental organizations have cleared a
major hurdle in the campaign to ban the use of cyanide in the US state
of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Senate voted 19 -14 to ban cyanide use in
all Wisconsin mines and to have "No Special Treatment" for the mining
industry. The bills now go to the State Assembly for consideration. Two
other environmental bills cleared the Senate further strengthening
regulation against the mining industry. One would bring up state
groundwater and hazardous waste standards to the level of other
industries, and end environmental exemptions for metallic mines. For
background on the cyanide bill go to:
http://www.alphacdc.com/treaty/cyanide.html (Pers. Comm. Zoltan
Grossman, Wisconsin Campaign to Ban Cyanide in Mining and the Midwest
Treaty Network, November 6, 2001)
VITAL STATISTICS: 15 Largest US Government Subsidies to the Oil Industry
The following list details the millions of dollars of US taxpayer money
that the US government gives to oil industry in subsidies. Subsidies are
sums of money given by the government specifically to support and/or
stabilize industry. They are given without any obligation to pay them
back. All dollar amounts are in millions.
1. Oil Defense: Defense operations to protect and secure Persian Gulf
oil shipments and infrastructure.
US$10,459 - US$23,333
2. Strategic Petroleum Reserve: Storage of crude oil to be used during
price shocks and supply disruptions to stabilize domestic supply.
US$41,560 - US$5,427
3. Foreign Tax Credit: Allows a portion of foreign tax payments to be
credited against, rather than deducted from, US taxes due.
US$486 - US$1,057
4. Accelerated depreciation of machinery and equipment: Allows machinery
and equipment within the oil industry to be depreciated more quickly
than their actual service lives.
US$720 - US$976
5. Excess of percentage over cost depletion: Allows firms to deduct more
than their investment in oil properties from their taxes.
US$335 - US$746
6. Public liability for plugging, abandoning, and remediation of onshore
wells: Annualized shortfall in bonding (insurance) levels needed to
cover existing liabilities in on-going operations.
US$119 - US$451
7. Accelerated depreciation of buildings and other rental housing:
Allows buildings owned by the oil industry to be depreciated more
quickly than their actual service lives.
US$234 - US$355
8. U.S. Coast Guard: Water infrastructure (maintenance of coastal
shipping; provision of navigational support; ice clearing)
US$308 - US$308
9. Deferral of income from controlled foreign corporations: Allows oil
companies to delay payment of U.S. taxes due on earnings from certain
US$62 - US$303
10. Low Income Home Energy Assistance: Assistance for low income energy
consumers to buy oil
US$274 - US$274
11. US Army Corp of Engineers: A government agency that maintains
waterways heavily used by oil tankers and barges.
US$239 - US$259
12. Expensing of exploration and development costs: Allows expenses
related to multi-year oil well assets to be deducted from taxes in the
current year rather than capitalized.
(US$146) - US$243
13. U.S. Export-Import Bank: Subsidized loans and insurance to support
the sale of oil-related equipment and consulting services abroad by U.S.
US$197 - US$241
14. Royalty Undercollection due to Artificially Low Posted Prices:
Undercollection due to use of below-market prices in computation of
production value by integrated companies.
US$31 - US$130
15. Tax break from federal/state interaction: State revenue losses from
federal tax breaks due to basing state taxable income calculations on
federal tax returns.
US$56 - US$119
All other subsidies
US$724 - US$970
TOTAL VALUE OF TOP 15 SUBSIDIES
Excluding Defense: US$4,477 - US$10,889*
Including Defense: US$14,936 - US$34,323*
*The two numbers in each line item represents a range between the
highest and lowest estimates of each specific subsidy. This is
indicative of the uncertainty surrounding some of the data inputs needed
to estimate specific subsidies. Factors contributing to this range
include differences between data sources, and the use of multiple
approaches to assess certain subsidies.
SOURCE: "Fueling Global Warming: Federal Subsidies to Oil in the United
States," by Douglas Koplow and Aaron Martin, Industrial Economics, Inc
for Greenpeace, June 1998.
For more information on the World Trade Organization and its meetings in
Doha, Qatar, visit:
US-based CorpWatch's website:
US-based International Forum on Globalization:
Food First: http://www.foodfirst.org/
For more information on Ghana, contact:
Third World Network, Ghana
PO BOX 19452
TEL: +233-21-306069 /301064 / 302107
FAX: +233-21-311687 /231688 /773857
WEBSITE: http://www.twnside.org.sg/twnintro.htm (affiliated
*ANALYSIS OF COMPLIANCE OLEODUCTO DE CRUDOS PESADOS (OCP) PROJECT AND
THE WORLD BANK ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES AND GUIDELINES
This report, written by the former head of World Wildlife Fund Bolivia
and produced by Amazon Watch, details how the Oleoducto de Crudos
Pesados [Pipeline] Project including its Environmental Impact Study and
the Environmental Management Plan, fail to adhere to World Bank
operational policies and guidelines, in particular the "Natural Habitat"
Policy (OP 4.04) and the Environmental Assessment Policy (OP 4.01").
To get an electronic copy of the report, go to:
For more information, contact:
115 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd., Suite E
Topanga, CA 90290 USA
*Tailings Dams: Risk of Dangerous Occurrences: Lessons Learnt From
Practical Experiences - Bulletin 121
This report analyzes the causes of 221 tailings dams accidents and
failures, and offers examples of effective remedial measures. The stated
purpose of the report is to discuss mine tailings dams failures and
lessons to be learned in order to identify improvements that would
reduce the occurrence of tailings dam failures.
To order the report, contact:
The United Nations Envrionment Program -
*fill out the form at:
http://www.mineralresourcesforum.org/release/index.htm and send with
P.O. Box 119 Stevenage,
Hertfordshire SG1 4TP
FAX: +44 (1438) 748 844
The above website provides some visual data on the 1999 oil spill in the
Delta region through pictures taken by Michael Fleshman. He also has
written an essay on his visit that can be obtained once on this link.
*Disclaimer: Project Underground does not extensively review any of the
resources published in Community Pipeline. We only pass on the
information for our readers.
Drillbits & Tailings is a monthly mining, oil and gas update published
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Drillbits & Tailings
Volume 6, Number 9
November 30, 2001
1916A MLK Jr Way
Berkeley, CA 94703
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