Jan. 9, 2012 by John Knox

In Chevron versus Ecuador, the Decisions (and the Ironies) Multiply

If environmental cases had their own Olympics, the dispute between Chevron and Ecuador would be a contender for multiple gold medals.  It seems to have a shot not only at winning the award for the largest damages, but also for running the longest and appearing in the most courtrooms. 

To recap:  Residents of the Amazon have been trying for nearly 20 years to receive compensation for massive environmental damage Chevron’s predecessor, Texaco, allegedly caused in Ecuador in what’s been called the “Rainforest Chernobyl.” In February, their efforts culminated in an $8.6 billion judgment by an Ecuadorian court against Chevron.  Chevron attacked the decision on several fronts, including by appealing to a higher Ecuadorian court and by suing the plaintiffs in U.S. federal court to stop them from enforcing the judgment.   

Last week, Chevron suffered setbacks in both courts.  On Tuesday, the Ecuadorian appellate court affirmed the judgment.  If Chevron doesn’t publicly apologize to Ecuador, the award will be doubled, to nearly $18 billion.  Chevron responded by saying that the decision “is another glaring example of the politicization and corruption of Ecuador's judiciary that has plagued this fraudulent case from the start.”  As I’ve …

Jan. 4, 2012 by Nina Mendelson

On January 9th, the Supreme Court will hear Sackett v. EPA, which concerns whether an individual has a right to a judicial hearing before, rather than after, an agency finalizes a so-called administrative compliance order.  The case has important potential to undermine the environmental protection, including the government’s ability to promptly respond to environmental threats such as factory outfalls leaking pollutants into rivers. 

The lawsuit involves an Idaho couple, Chantell and Mike Sackett, with a .63 acre property overlooking Priest Lake, Idaho. The Sacketts cleared and filled about a half acre of the property with gravel to ready it for building a house.  EPA officials discovered the fill and notified the couple that they had filled a “jurisdictional wetland,” meaning a wetland covered by the federal Clean Water Act.  (Mike Sackett has publicly stated that although the property could get “wet” in the spring, it was …

Jan. 3, 2012 by Rena Steinzor

It’s my great pleasure to announce that the Board of Directors of CPR has selected Jake Caldwell to serve as our new executive director. He succeeds Shana Jones, who earlier this year announced she would be leaving CPR to teach environmental policy at Old Dominion University. 

Jake comes to CPR after six years at the Center for American Progress, where he was the Director of Policy for Agriculture, Trade and Energy. His research and writing in that capacity frequently focused on environmental issues, including climate change regulation, renewable energy financing, clean energy and conservation, biofuel production and more. From November 2008 to January 2009, Jake served as a member of President Obama’s Transition Team, in the Energy and Natural Resources Section of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agency Review. He has served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Carey …

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