Chevron Corporation, one of the six "supermajor" publicly-traded oil companies, is the second largest oil and gas company (and third largest company) in the U.S. after ExxonMobil. Chevron owns the Texaco, Gulf, and Caltex brands, as well as Unocal, and Dynergy.
Chevron’s history dates back to the mid-1800s with the Pacific Coast Oil Company, which was beat out and consumed by the Rockefeller family’s Standard Oil Company. Standard Oil was broken up through Supreme Court anti-trust implementation in the early 1900s, from which the California branch evolved into Socal. Socal eventually became Chevron in the mid-1980s.
Chevron has made over $21.7 billion in the first three quarters of 2011, already surpassing annual profit margins for all recent years except a record 2008 profit of $23.9 billion. From 2007-2010, Chevron made over $72 billion in profits.
Pollution and Human Rights Issues:
In November, 2011, a Chevron-operated deepwater drilling rig off the coast of Brazil experienced a blowout, releasing an estimated 2,400-3000 barrels (over 100,000 gallons) of crude oil into the ocean. Brazil has accused the company of providing inaccurate information about the extent of the gusher, installing an offshore drilling ban in response to Chevron's leak. In response to public outcry, a Chevron official stated, “Not even one drop has reached the beach, a reaction of this magnitudes is really surprising.”
Texaco, which was purchased by Chevron in 2001, is responsible for the deliberate dumping and abandonment of approximately 18.5 billion gallons of toxic waste byproducts into a large stretch of the Ecuadorian Amazon from 1964 to 1990. Seventeen million gallons of crude oil were also spilled into the same region. An ongoing lawsuit in Ecuador could potentially fine Chevron $27.3 billion for its role as Texaco’s owner, if enforced. Chevron has created its own website broadcasting its “views and opinions” regarding this lawsuit, countering allegations (“myths”) made against them.
Chevron is accused of causing or contributing to numerous other environmental and human rights abuses in the Niger Delta, Iraq, Australia, Kazakhstan, the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and other areas. During violent crackdowns of peaceful protests against oil companies in Nigeria, Chevron-branded helicopters carried soldiers who opened fire upon the nonviolent protestors.
Subsidiary Chevron Pipe Line Co. was fined by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for spilling 33,600 gallons of crude oil Utah's Red Butte Creek. While a lightning strike was blamed for starting the spill, poor oversight and maintenance on the part of the company contributed to the accident.
The Political Economy Research Institute ranks Chevron number 82 out of the 100 highest air polluters in the United States, emitting 3.73 million pounds of toxic chemicals in 2006. The burdon of the company's polluting facilities rests disproportionately on low income and minority communities.
In March of 2012, 17 employees from Chevron and Transocean - a company that operates drilling rigs - were barred from leaving Brazil because of their involvement in an oil spill from an offshore field owned by Chevron. Chevron is rapidly expanding its offshore operations in Brazil, which is known for its difficult deepwater driling conditions. The company hopes that development of the Brazilian offshore oil fields will make Chevron one of the largest oil producers in the world, rivalling Iran and Venezuela's nationally owned oil companies. The company claimed the oil leak in Brazil was only a tiny fraction of the disasterous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Chevron called Brazil's investigation in to the spill a "overreaction." Ali Moshri, the head of Chevron's Latin American operations, said "I've never seen a spill this small with this size of reaction."
Within the U.S. political system, Chevron is one of the most powerful corporate lobbying forces, spending over $63.9 million on lobbying efforts from 2008-2012. Additionally, Chevron has spent over $2.3 million on direct political contributions since the 2008 election cycle..
Chevron CEO John Watson boasts investments totaling "$197 million in our communities [where Chevron conducts business].” This figure amounts to less than 1% of Chevron’s profit in the first three quarters of 2011.
Chevron’s greenwash campaign shifts focus away from their pro-offshore drilling and anti-climate legislation lobbying, while Chevron’s influence in the Capitol was further entrenched through sponsoring a 2008 presidential debate. By October 20, Chevron spent over $7.4 million on advertising directly addressing energy and environmental topics in the U.S. in 2010.