The Occupy movement came to Chevron's annual shareholder meeting yesterday in San Ramon, California when over 150 people protested at the meeting. San Jose Mercury News reports that protesters held signs with slogans that included: "Occupy Chevron," "Energy shouldn't cost lives" and "1% whiners, pay your fair share."
The protesters also included union members, shareholders and community leaders. Representatives of United Steelworkers were among the protesters, and that included workers from Chevron's oil refinery in Richmond, located in the Bay Area. The protesters presented seven shareholder resolutions addressing Chevron's "risky operations," according to a press release by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). One of the resolutions called for the separation of CEO and chairman, which received only 38 percent of the vote, double what it received in previous years. Another resolution called for Chevron to disclose more about hydraulic fracturing, the controversial drilling method better known as fracking, which was rejected by 73 percent of shareholders.
The RAN press release stated that every year the oil giant "faces opposition at its shareholder meeting, but today's drew a larger and more diverse crowd galvanized by the oil giant's year of legal problems, oil spills and fines for reckless practices."
Chevron faces over $43 billion in actual and potential fines: $22 billion for oil spills off the coast of Brazil, $18 billion for oil contamination in Ecuador, $3 million for gas explosions off the coast of Nigeria, and $27 million for tax-dodging in Richmond. The United Federation of Oil Workers (FUP), Brazil's largest oil worker's union, filed a lawsuit in March demanding that all of Chevron's oil and gas concession contracts in Brazil be cancelled.
After the shareholder meeting, Chevron CEO John Watson spoke to reporters. "I have yet to see a coherent energy strategy," Watson said. "One minute you hear about affordable energy. Then you hear about energy security. Then about environmental policies. Those all have to be reconciled."
Watson also defended fracking. "Fracking is not a new technology, but it has come to new areas," Watson told reporters. "There are legitimate concerns. But they can all be addressed."
The protest at the shareholder meeting is not the first time the Occupy movement set its aim on Chevron. Last month, Occupy Richmond dubbed April 20 "Occupy Earth Day," and during speeches, protested Chevron's plans to build new facilities at its Richmond property that would allow it to process heavier crude oil. The city of Richmond is already suffering from air pollution. The California Air Resources Board ranked the Richmond refinery as the biggest greenhouse gas emitter in the state in both 2009 and 2010. The refinery is 100 years old, and processes over 200,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
Photo: Flickr user, Edward
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.