NBC Bay Area
A trip to Ecuador, where Chevron is being sued for environmental damage, has bolstered Richmond mayor's efforts to make company pay.
Gayle McLaughlin is readier than ever to take on Chevron.
Fresh from a six-day trek through Ecuador -- where the Richmond mayor witnessed "environmental devastation" wrought by big oil, including the company that operates a refinery in her city -- McLaughlin says she is ready to renew the "struggle against corporate domination," she told the Contra Costa Times.
That means McLaughlin, the only Green Party mayor of an American city of over 100,000 people, is ready to go to war against her city's biggest taxpayer.
Ecuador has also been locked in a legal struggle against Chevron. Oil companies have been blamed by the oil-rich, cash-poor South American nation for environmental devastation at the cost of little economic benefit -- but large profits for the polluters.
Ecuador has sued Chevron for the environmental damage in rainforests and elsewhere, and a judge awarded the country $18 billion in 2011. The oil giant appealed, and a new trial is set to begin Oct. 15.
Richmond has also sued Chevron, after an Aug. 6, 2012 fire at the refinery sent 15,000 people to hospitals, the newspaper reported. A probe found that Chevron failed to maintain an aging pipe, which led to the fire.
McLaughlin went to Ecuador on Sept. 15, alongside farming activist Doria Robinson and a journalist for the East Bay Express. Their airfare and expenses were covered by the Ecuadorean government, who invited her because of her criticism of the oil company -- including the lawsuit, the newspaper reported.