Adam Klasfeld | Environmental Journalism
Touring oil pits dotting the Ecuadorian Amazon and digging through court files from New York to the Netherlands, I have produced distinctive coverage of a $9.6 billion litigation between indigenous rainforest residents and Chevron, investigated the link between fracking and earthquakes; and chronicled a watershed fraud probe against ExxonMobil over the company's representations on climate change.
Chevron in Ecuador
In March 2014, I went to Ecuador for a two-week series of articles investigating a major development in a more than $9 billion legal battle against Chevron for its predecessor Texaco's oil contamination of the Amazon rainforest. A New York federal judge had just ruled that an Ecuadorean judge's verdict against the oil giant was fraudulent, and I traveled to Ecuador to get reactions from government officials and people still living on top of oil pits. This series ended with an exclusive interview with Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa in New York, and NPR's flagship program "All Things Considered" invited me on air to speak about my observations for a segment coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Click on the titles below to access the articles:
To defend itself against more than $9 billion in liabilities for its predecessor's pollution of the Ecuadorean Amazon, Chevron accused lawyers for the rainforest residents of bribing a judge, and ghostwriting the judgment against the oil giant.
In this series of articles, I blew the lid on confidential forensic evidence that undermined this allegation.
Although Chevron has long alleged that lawyers for Ecuadorean villagers secretly wrote the verdict against it, my reportage revealed what have now become undisputed facts.The data on the computers of the judge in the Chevron case includes a Microsoft Word document that appears to be a running draft of the judgment. This document was saved "hundreds" of times on both of the computers over four months, and the author names of the supposed ghostwriters do not appear in any files or emails on the hard drives.
Groundbreaking Study on Fracking Earthquakes
The U.S. Geological Survey's "2016 One-Year Seismic Hazard Forecast" offered the agency's unprecedented predictions of what it labeled "induced earthquakes" and hydraulic fracturing, a controversial form of natural-gas drilling more commonly known as fracking. Environmental advocates had long alleged a link between fracking and seismic activity, but this report marked the agency's first recognition of this relationship. The report estimated that fracking would put roughly 7.9 million people at risk near drilling zones.
Originally appearing on Courthouse News, my write-up of the report was reprinted on AlterNet.
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Scrutiny on ExxonMobil and Climate Change
After InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times reported that ExxonMobil's scientists internally confirmed climate change in the 1970s -- decades before embarking on public relations campaigns denied its effects -- attorneys general in New York and Massachusetts opened investigations as to whether the Texas-based oil giant defrauded shareholders. This dispatch goes into a Manhattan courtroom, where a judge urged Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to speed the case along.
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