Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in English “sour lake”, is a former site of 20 years’ worth of oil extraction by Chevron (formerly Texaco), now witness to one of the world’s largest environmental lawsuits, potentially worth $6 billion.
The lawsuit first came to my attention at Live Earth, when Sting left the stage after immediately turning over his press time to his wife, who deferred to a U.S. advocate and the two lead Ecuadorean lawyers, all of whom plead their case (translators on-hand) before the dwindling number of press representatives (preparing for Sting’s stage performance).
In case you missed it (because I did), May’s Vanity Fair featured one of the lead lawyers, Pablo Fajardo, in a good-sized article on the case.
Vanity Fair traces the historical context of the oil extraction, the social and environmental devastation, including off-the-charts contamination levels, and, most poignantly, Fajardo’s personal battle leading up to his involvement with the case.
That said, I’d like to echo Fajardo’s final words of wisdom from the article:
One of the problems with modern society is that it places more importance on things that have a price than on things that have a value. Breathing clean air, for instance, or having clean water in the rivers, or having legal rights–these are things that don’t have a price but have a huge value. Oil does have a price, but its value is much less. And sometimes we make the mistake.