Groups Gather To Tell Chevron That Oil And Democracy Does Not Mix

Richmond, California (SC) – This morning, a coalition of Richmond City Councilmembers, Richmond residents, and national environmental groups, representing the voices of over 100,000 people demanded that Chevron take its millions of dollars out of politics.

In 2012, following a major fire at it’s oil refinery in Richmond, CA that endangered the entire community and sent 15,000 residents to the hospital, the Richmond City Council sued Chevron for “a continuation of years of neglect, lax oversight and corporate indifference to necessary safety inspection and repairs.”

In response to the lawsuit, Chevron sought to buy the 2014 Richmond City Council election by dumping more than $3 million into the races, outspending their opponents by a 20-1 margin.

Today, ahead of Chevron’s shareholder meeting on May 27th, Richmond City Councilmembers Eduardo Martinez, Jovanka Beckles, Gail McLaughlin, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, the Sierra Club, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Citizens for a Better Environment, CREDO Action, and members of the Richmond community stood together at Richmond City Hall with over 100,000 petitions supporting a resolution calling for Chevron to stop spending tens of millions per year on buying politicians.

The following are statements from this morning’s press conference:

“Chevron has consistently violated our community’s trust, demonstrating that they will put their corporate profits ahead of the health and safety of our neighborhoods and our environment. Today, for the future of our communities, we join with 100,000 supporters from around the country calling on Chevron to stop polluting our elections and our planet,” said Richmond City Councilmember Eduardo Martinez.

“Last year, Chevron and the oil industry spent a record $20 million lobbying our politicians in California. They throw millions of dollars into elections to bankroll their hand-picked candidates and defeat commonsense policies that protect our air, water, and communities. Big Oil’s influence on our democracy is toxic; toxic for our health, and toxic for our environment. It’s time we say once and for all that ‘Oil and Democracy Don’t Mix,” said Josh Sonnenfeld, Associate Director of the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America Campaign.

Image Source: Sierra Club

Image Source: Sierra Club

“Chevron has a choice: they can spend their billions of dollars to buy politicians, polluting our elections and our neighborhoods, or they can use their resources to make their facilities safer and cleaner for their workers, our community, and our environment.  For our members living in the toxic shadow of Chevron’s refinery, this is a simple choice,” said Sandy Saeteurn of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network.

“In 2012, Chevron sent 15,000 of our neighbors to the hospital, when their negligence led to the third refinery explosion in as many decades. Our community has fought back to save our lives, joining together and electing a City Council that isn’t afraid to stand up to Chevron. But we know Chevron’s toxic impacts go far beyond our borders, and so we are supporting this shareholder resolution so that refinery towns all over the country can have a voice,” said Andres Soto of Communities for a Better Environment.

“Chevron has been polluting Richmond’s air and water for decades,” said Zack Malitz, Campaign Manager at CREDO Action. “Now, to avoid accountability for poisoning Richmond residents, Chevron has taken to polluting local elections with its money. Chevron’s shareholders can and should put an end to this by supporting the resolution barring Chevron’s local, state and federal political contributions.”

Disclosure: This is an unedited Sierra Club press release. The Sierra Club is a special interest group dedicated to protecting the environment.