Open Letter to Chevron

The following letter was sent to Chevron Corporation to explain to them why we are taking action against them on December 7th. For a downloadable, fully-referenced version of the letter, click here.

December 2, 2009
To: David O’Reilly, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Chevron Corporation
John S. Watson, Vice Chairman of the Board, Chevron Corporation

On the eve of the international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, we are writing to express our concern over Chevron’s role in blocking science-based emissions targets and climate solutions. Our organizations represent citizens concerned about climate change, as well as communities directly impacted by Chevron’s oil extraction and refining operations.

Recognizing that we have only a few years in which to begin reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in order to avert the worst impacts of climate change, we call on Chevron to immediately take the following actions in order to stop obstructing the urgent action that must be taken to confront climate change:

1. Support equitable, science-based targets and climate solutions in international climate change negotiations and domestically.
Scientists agree that in order to prevent catastrophic climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must globally peak and begin to decline in the next few years. In order to achieve this goal in an equitable manner, developed countries should reduce their emissions by at least 40% by 2020. Chevron has so far refused to accept this scientific conclusion, as proved by its public statements, national lobbying, and campaign contributions:

  • Chevron publicly opposes the Kyoto Protocol. Incoming CEO John Watson has publicly stated that reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% below 2005 levels by 2020 is not possible, and current CEO David O’Reilly has spoken out against the science-based target of reducing emissions 80% by 2050.
  • Incoming CEO John Watson has spoken out against current national climate change legislation under debate in Congress. In the first half of 2009, Chevron spent $12.8 million on lobbying the US federal government, up from $6.2 million in the first half of 2008. By working to derail domestic climate change legislation, Chevron is directly contributing to undermining the international climate change negotiations, where other nations are looking to the U.S. to make binding commitments to reduce emissions.
  • Chevron spent $1.8 million on lobbying in California during the months that the legislature was debating AB 32, California’s “Global Warming Solutions Act,” which calls on the state of California to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
  • In the 2008 election cycle, Chevron donated more than $110,000 to members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and almost $50,000 to members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (both of which are responsible for climate change legislation). The majority of the campaign contributions were to Republican members. Among the oil and gas industry, Chevron was ranked third in terms of total amount of money spent on campaign contributions in the 2008 election cycle.

2. Pledge not to support any fake “grassroots” campaigns against national climate change legislation

  • The American Petroleum Institute, of which Chevron is a member, recently launched a fake grassroots campaign called “Energy Citizen” to oppose national climate change legislation. Although Shell, another member of the American Petroleum Institute, has publicly stated that it will not participate in “Energy Citizen” rallies, Chevron has made no such commitment. Instead, Chevron actively provided transportation and encouraged its employees to attend an “Energy Citizen” rally in Houston, Texas.

3. Cap the crude and stop expanding into heavier sources of crude oil.

  • Chevron is aggressively expanding into increasingly environmentally and climate destructive methods of oil production. Chevron is a major player in oil production from the Alberta tar sands—an energy-intensive process that generates three to five times more global warming pollution than conventional oil production, and destroys the lives and livelihoods of neighboring Indigenous communities.
  • In 2008, Chevron gave a presentation at the “JPMorgan Annual Energy Symposium: Heavy Oil,” entitled “Chevron: a Focused Leader in Heavy Oil” detailing how the company is “positioning ourselves as a leader” in heavy oil and moving aggressively into oil producing areas that yield heavier slates of crude.
  • Communities for a Better Environment found that a switch to heavier oil or tar sands could double or triple greenhouse gas emissions and also increase emissions of toxic pollutants from U.S. oil refineries. A “crude cap” would limit refineries to same-quality crude inputs and prevent the refining of heavier oil.
  • Rather than developing heavier sources of crude, Chevron should invest more in clean, renewable sources of energy. Chevron spent, at best, less than 3% of its total capital and exploratory expenditures on clean alternative energy in 2008.


Mobilization for Climate Justice, West Coast

Art in Action
Asian Pacific Environmental Network
Bay Localize
Communities for a Better Environment
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity
Forest Ethics
Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
Global Exchange
Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice
Grind for the Green
International Forum on Globalization
International Rivers
Justice in Nigeria Now!
Rainforest Action Network
Richmond Progressive Alliance
Rising Tide Bay Area
The Ruckus Society
West County Toxics Coalition
Youth in Focus