Why Chevron Is a War Criminal and a Planet Killer

December 24th, 2021 - by Cynthia Papermaster / CODEPINK Golden Gate Chapter

Marking “Anit-Chevron Day” at the Chevron Richmond Refinery

“Here’s the awful truth: even if every person, every automobile, and every factory suddenly emitted zero emissions, the Earth would still be headed head-first and full-speed towards total disaster for one major reason.
The military … produces enough greenhouse gases, by itself, to place the entire globe, with all of its inhabitants large and small, in the most imminent danger of extinction.”
— Barry Saunders, The Green Zone

Winter Solstice Treaty Action at the Chevron Richmond Refinery

Cynthia Papermaster / CODEPINK Golden Gate Chapter

RICHMOND, Calif. (December 22, 2021) — We are very grateful to Idle No More and the Indigenous Women of the Americas Treaty Signatories for inviting CODEPINK to support and speak at the December 21 Winter Solstice Treaty Action held at the Chevron Richmond Refinery. 

Yesterday I was privileged to take part in a very beautiful heart-centered action. The weather forecast said 90% chance of rain but the skies were clear and the sun shone down on us. David Solnit directed the street mural painting, children and “four leggeds” participated, the speakers were so good, there was cool music to accompany the painting, supporting groups included Extinction Rebellion, 1000 Grandmothers, Sunflower Alliance, Urban Tilth, Youth vs. Apocalypse, CODEPINK, Richmond Listening Project, and others.

Annie Hallett came in her raven outfit (see photos) lending a whimsical presence. Peg Hunter’s gorgeous photos are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/43005015@N06/albums/72177720295451000?fbclid=IwAR3rbPTvPJGiCV2KwZJ0y9WvfDv-AfzoK2ahN_U6PqwLN0CJ6Etc2NRapC0

I prepared a speech at Jackie Barshak’s suggestion. Usually I speak without this level of preparation, so I’m grateful to Jackie because I needed to remember Chevron’s role in the Iraq War, and I needed to re-acquaint myself with the many efforts over many years to call out Chevron’s role in militarism. I re-discovered this awesome 2008 Chevron anti-war material, for instance: https://bayareadirectaction.wordpress.com 

How many of us have traveled to the Chevron Refinery gates over the years to join with the Richmond community and the many groups working to oppose Chevron?

We shut two of Chevron’s entry gates! Amazing victory!! Banner holders stretched across the entrances and Chevron capitulated. The Richmond Police were stationed across the road watching, but there were no arrests or hassles as far as I could tell. We heard them say “Move out and clear the entrance” but we didn’t move. We stood our ground.

I spoke on behalf of CODEPINK. My prepared speech is below, but when it came time at the very end to step up to the mic, I put my speech away and spoke of what I know: 

  • that Chevron drove the illegal war and occupation of Iraq to steal their oil and take over the Iraq oil industry, resulting in death and misery for Iraqis and U.S. soldiers and at a tremendous cost to all of us
  • that the military is Chevron’s BIG customer, using more fossil fuels than 100 countries combined, emitting untold amounts of greenhouse gases that are causing climate catastrophe
  • that Chevron is in partnership with war profiteers such as Lockheed, with a former Chevron executive on Lockheed’s Board of Directors.
  • I asked the gathering to say the names with me of the BIG 5 war profiteers: Lockheed, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics
  • that Chevron itself is a war profiteer.
  • that Chevron is raping our Mother Earth
  • and that we are coming together and we are powerful — the anti-militarism, climate, labor, healthcare, education, immigration, environmental and all other issue groups– together we will RISE, LOVE and RESIST the war industry, so that future generations will be able to live in peace and harmony with each other and our precious planet.

I felt so blessed to experience this action, the opening prayer, water offering, reading of the Treaty, and sister song. 

I was heartened to hear Isabella’s call for unity. This is the way we need to go in the coming years, in the time we have left to act. Unity of purpose, supporting each issue, climbing out of our silos, and centering indigenous, women-led, and people of color leadership to rise up against patriarchy, imperialism and capitalism.Thank you again to all who are in action in these perilous times.

Love, peace and understanding.

Cynthia Papermaster is the Coordinator of the Golden Gate Chapter of Codepink Women for Peace.

Chevron and War: Protests Outside Chevron’s Richmond Refinery

RICHMOND, Calif. (December 21, 2021) — Good morning. I’m Cynthia Papermaster, a San Francisco Bay Area Coordinator for the Women-led peace and justice group CODEPINK.

We are so honored to be invited to be a part of this Winter Solstice Treaty Action. We thank Isabella, Alison, and the other organizers for acknowledging the intersection of the fossil fuel industry with war and militarism. We must work together with our allies Idle No More, the Sunflower Alliance, Youth vs. Apocalypse, Extinction Rebellion and others — to Rise, Love and Resist the harmful behavior of Chevron and of the war economy. 

CODEPINK is one of the most active and visible anti-militarism groups in the United States. We are known for calling out the war makers and war profiteers. 

Our many campaigns range from cutting the bloated Pentagon budget — now at $778 billion — to ending the Saudi-led war on Yemen, lifting United States’ economic sanctions on 39 countries, sanctions being a form of economic warfare that unfairly and immorally collectively punishes people — starving them, denying them needed medicines, etc. — to punish their governments. The people of Cuba and Palestine don’t deserve to be punished. The people of China and Russia don’t deserve to be threatened by the United States with yet more wars. With 800 military bases around the world, the people of those countries don’t deserve to be polluted and terrorized. 

We are working to end the war economy and to establish a peace economy that works for everyone, where we respect our Mother Earth, where all have good work, good food, healthy families and communities. We know that we are powerful, unstoppable, if we work together to stop funding war.

We’ve been gathering at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House in San Franciscomonthly to hold People’s Assemblies. The People’s Assemblies will be quarterly in 2022. We serve a free vegan dinner, have an Extinction Dance Party, and write a giant letter to Pelosi with our demands: for Pelosi to declare a climate emergency, to cut the Pentagon budget and to enact Medicare for All. Pelosi says “yes” to every Pentagon request, neglecting her constituents’ needs for universal healthcare, affordable housing, freedom from student debt, living wages, clean energy. In 2022 we will hold quarterly People’s Assemblies. We invite everyone to join us in telling the most powerful person in government how we want our tax money spent. The Speaker decides which bills get voted on, she decides how we spend the federal budget. Do we want more war, weapons, suffering, and a world heading for climate catastrophe, or do we want our taxes spent on our communities and on good policies to protect the climate?

We call out the BIG 5 war profiteers who are making a killing on killing. We plan to continue going to their facilities, and going to the CEO’s homes to demand that they stop making a killing on killing.

Say their names with me:
Lockheed Martin
Northrup Grumman
General Dynamics

I’m adding Chevron to that list, because Chevron is also a War Profiteer. There are many ways Chevron profits from war and militarism. I’m going to talk about two of the ways:

#1. The United States invades and occupies countries for their oil, spending trillions of dollars on these wars and causing thousands of deaths so that Chevron can profit from the U.S. wars for oil. 

Do you remember that before the war on Iraq began, Vice President Dick Cheney invited Chevron and other oil companies to help plan the takeover of Iraq’s oil industry? Chevron drove the war and occupation in Iraq, refining over a million barrels of stolen Iraqi oil at this Richmond refinery each month where we are standing today.

In 1998, Kenneth Derr, then CEO of Chevron, said, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas-reserves I’d love Chevron to have access to.”

In 2013 Antonia Juhasz, the great oil industry analyst, wrote a CNN piece called “Why the war in Iraq was fought for Big Oil” She states “Opening up Iraq to foreign oil companies was the main goal of the Iraq War. Plans for Western oil exploration in Iraq were drawn up years before the 2003 invasion. The Bush administration pressured the Iraqi government to pass laws allowing foreign firms in. 

Representatives from ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Halliburton, among others, met with Cheney’s staff in January 2003 to discuss plans for Iraq’s postwar industry. For the next decade, former and current executives of western oil companies acted first as administrators of Iraq’s oil ministry and then as “advisers” to the Iraqi government. In 2013, 80% of Iraq’s oil was being exported out of the country while Iraqis struggled to meet basic energy consumption needs. Basic services such as water and electricity were scarce, 25% of the population were living in poverty.” Antonia concludes “Yes, the Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with winners: Big Oil.”

 “Of course it’s about oil; we can’t really deny that,” said Gen. John Abizaid, former head of U.S. Central Command and Military Operations in Iraq, in 2007. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the same in 2007: “People say we’re not fighting for oil. Of course we are.”

At a protest at Chevron’s Houston headquarters in 2010, former U.S. Army Military Intelligence officer Thomas Buonomo, member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, held up a sign that read, “Dear Chevron: Thank you for dishonoring our service”.

Yes, the Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with losers: the Iraqi people and all those who spilled and lost blood so that Big Oil could come out ahead.

Hassan Juma’a Awad, President, Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) wrote “Five years of invasion, war and occupation have brought nothing but death, destruction, misery and suffering to our people. In the name of our “liberation,” more than a million of our citizens have been killed or wounded, our nation’s schools, hospitals and other infrastructure have been destroyed, our neighbourhoods have been bombed, our homes have been broken into, our children have been traumatized, many of our family members and neighbours have been assaulted and arrested, our national treasures have been looted, and nearly twenty percent of our people have been turned into refugees. …

We demand that the US government, oil companies and others immediately cease lobbying for the oil law which would fracture the country and hand control over our oil to multinational companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron. 

We seek your support and solidarity to help us end the military and economic occupation of our country.

We look forward to the day when we have a world based on co-operation and solidarity. We look forward to a world free from war, sectarianism, competition and exploitation.”
We weep for the suffering that Chevron, the U.S. military, and the U.S. Congress created and are still creating for the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, and through economic sanctions, the people of Cuba.

2. One of war profiteer Chevron’s biggest customers is the U.S. military. 

The military requires massive amounts of fossil fuels for war and for its 800 military bases around the world. The military is also a HUGE source of the greenhouse gases creating the climate emergency. The military emits more greenhouse gases than 100 countries combined. 

And the U.S. military is the most expensive item in the United States’ budget with over half of our taxes going to the Pentagon, and half of THAT amount going to the BIG FIVE War Industry companies: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, along with Chevron. In spending $778 billion on the military, our Congress is prioritizing the failed F-35 fighter jet, nuclear weapons, battleships, bombs, and surveillance tech over the things our communities actually need to meet this crisis.

Chevron works closely with the war industry to make a killing on killing.

The war profiteers have a cozy relationship. 

I’ve been doing research on Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest war company. Looking at Lockheed’s Board of Directors I see that Patricia Yarrington, the Retired Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Chevron became a Lockheed Director in June 2021. Yarrington served as CFO of Chevron from January 2009 until her retirement in March 2019. During her 38 years at Chevron, she also served as vice president and treasurer from 2007 through 2008, vice president of Policy, Government and Public Affairs from 2002 to 2007 and vice president of Strategic Planning from 2000 to 2002. She was also chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco between 2013-2014. She helped plan the illegal and tragic U.S. war on Iraq. 

Lockheed Martin is a murdering, criminal enterprise. It was a 500-pound Lockheed bomb that hit a school bus in Yemen in 2018, killing 40 children and injuring many more.

I’d also mention that as Chevron contributes to the worldwide climate emergency they are also contributing to what has been called “The age of climate warfare.” The Climate catastrophe brings opportunities for the military-industrial complex.

In November, CODEPINK went to the COP26 in Glasgow where at Nancy Pelosi’s press conference Journalist Abby Martin confronted her on her approval of the $778 billion Pentagon budget in the face of her inaction on climate. Pelosi justified the $778 billion, saying that we need a strong military to guard our borders from climate refugees. 

It’s shocking that instead of spending those billions on our communities, transitioning to clean energy or making preparations for adapting to climate chaos, Pelosi invests our tax dollars in the military, which is worsening the climate emergency. 

The Pentagon is preparing “to protect US interests in the aftermath of massive floods, water shortages and famines that are expected to hit and decimate unstable nations.”

And the very companies most responsible for climate change are set to make a killing from its intensification. The war profiteers see climate change as an opportunity to make even more profits. 

And finally, Chevron uses militaries to guard its operations and profits. Its human rights abuses in the U.S., Ecuador, Nigeria, Burma, Chad and Angola are well known. There are many examples of the violence that Chevron sponsors.

Let’s remember that the people are powerful, unstoppable. There are far more of us, the 99%, than there are of them. 

We can end wars by working together to stop funding them. 

Let’s Rise, Love and Resist together. 
Thank you.