My email to the Department of Justice (in their case against Chevron Mining)

I would like to comment about the above case.

Really? Chevron, a company that had sales and operating revenues of $220 BILLION dollars in 2013, with net profits of $21 BILLION dollars in 2013 (http://www.chevron.com/documents/pdf/corporatefactsheet.pdf) is being penalized $4 MILLION dollars for what they did at the Questa Mine site in New Mexico? Are you serious?

In your own Consent Decree, DOJ states that the mine has been polluting that entire area since 1966 (!). They have polluted the precious Red River upstream, downstream, poisoned the ground water, killed off the fish population, damaged terrestrial, invertebrate and any other habitat that might have, or ever will, exist, and they get off with this pathetic excuse for a penalty? Wait. I get it. This tortured mess of a situation is meant, I believe, to accomplish several things. First, it provides cover for the US government which is making Chevron promise they won’t continue to sue the US government (now that’s moxie!) for ALLOWING them to knowingly pollute. Secondly, the other, possibly more significant stipulation is that Chevron has to sign over 225 acres of oil-rich New Mexico real estate called the Anderson Ranch.

What is going to happen to that piece of land owned by Chevron? I tried very hard to get a straightforward answer about this. Despite phone conversations with several government officials from 3 different agencies (no one knows what will become of the land once the Department of the Interior gets its hands on it), countless emails (which also provided ZERO tangible information on the Anderson Ranch plans), and roughly 10 voicemails to, apparently, the only person who may have anything more than a random guess about what might happen to the Anderson Ranch transaction (her name is Pamela Herrera-Olivas and her outgoing voicemail message is a year old, so, well, she may not even exist for all I know) and who couldn’t even bother to return any of my phone calls, I am left to assume the worst. And that is that this absolutely horrible “deal” that the American people and the countless other forms of life that have been killed, maimed or never even had a chance to be born are getting is because the Department of the Interior is going to drill and otherwise further devastate New Mexico, as it does all over the country. This link refers to the geologic characteristics of the Anderson Ranch, and about all the oil located on the site: http://geophysics.geoscienceworld.org/content/22/4/870.short?related-urls=yes&legid=gsgpy;22/4/870.

Whilst I am essentially operating in a vacuum, when no one will talk to me about what is going to transpire after the ink is dry on this “deal,” and when there is no recourse, except the one person who won’t talk to me, I am left to assume the worst, which is all I’ve ever seen from the Department of the Interior. Why else would the US government have Chevron hand over what is essentially chump change under their CEO’s couch cushions ($4 million dollars) to make amends for their reckless polluting of an entire region? This clean up will eventually cost someone (but not Chevron) nearly a billion dollars (https://schatziesearthproject.com/2014/11/25/taos-new-mexico-article-about-chevron-mine/). And then, also in your Consent Decree, DOJ makes Chevron promise not to have any future claims or ownership regarding the Anderson Ranch property (https://schatziesearthproject.com/2014/11/25/excerpted-sections-of-us-dept-of-justice-vs-chevron-for-new-mexico-pollution-site-at-questa-mine/)…hmmm.

Well, I smell a rat, frankly. I’m sorry to give the Department of Justice such a hard time. I think that you must have to do the most expeditious thing possible. As someone from the USGS said to me on the phone regarding this case, “Well, it could be worse. it’s been going on for years and at least we got them to stop operating this mine. Usually, they will shut this stuff down when it’s not profitable and then just reopen it and keep going when it’s worth the pay off, and we are left with a worse mess. Even though they (New Mexico) lost all those jobs, at least the people who lost those jobs can now get a job cleaning up the mess once this is done.” Shit. Why don’t we just get prisoners to do this horrible work? I suggest that the Chevron executives that perpetuate this situation roll up their Hermes shirt sleeves and do it themselves. On their way to jail. Otherwise, this is going to go on ad infinitum. Or until we become extinct. Whichever comes first, and it’s going to be a photo finish.

And I’ve never even been to New Mexico. I will never be able to recoup the hours I spent figuring this out, but it was worth it because I am, more importantly, a citizen of planet earth. A place that the fossil fuel industry is killing. DOJ, please, please stand up for all of us who can speak up for what is right, and for all those who have no voice whatsoever.

Sincerely,
Schatzie