Ant Exam 3

Ant Exam 3 - Jake Hanft ANT 131 3/15/10 Chevron and the...

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Jake Hanft ANT 131 3/15/10 Chevron and the Environment A Recommendation to the Superior Court of Neuva Loja Texaco extracted oil and gas from Ecuador for 28 years beginning in 1972. During that time, serious environmental consequences occurred, including oil spills, gas leaks, and industrial waste. These have caused air, water, and soil contamination, adverse health consequences, and damage to indigenous culture. Evidence Threshold In a class-action lawsuit against Chevron by citizens of Ecuador, the first and most important action the court must take is to decide what level of evidence is required. Do the plaintiffs need evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that Chevron’s alleged environmental contamination caused the negative health effects of neighboring Ecuadorian residents, or is substantial evidence sufficient for Chevron’s liability? David Michaels, author of the industry expository Doubt is Their Product , provides a helpful perspective on this issue. He opens his sixth chapter by stating “[s]cientists who are involved in developing public health and environmental protections agree that we do not need (and almost never obtain) proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Our regulatory systems call for using the best evidence present at the time. Waiting for absolute certainty is a recipe for failure: People will die, and the environment will be damaged if we wait for absolute proof” (Michaels 2).
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Michaels’ poignant warning touches on the fundamental issue in determining the result of the lawsuit against Chevron. Does using the standard of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt risk causing further harm to the endangered human populations and environment of Ecuador? Michaels takes the stance of real-world practicality, arguing that in the highly complex and intricate system of the environment, proof beyond a reasonable doubt is unreasonable. It is my recommendation that the court not require proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but adopt a lower, more practical and pragmatic standard of proof – substantial evidence. The unrealistic threshold of proof beyond a reasonable doubt will only delay potential environmental restoration, and in the process lead to further strife and human costs. Additionally, selecting the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt will drastically shift the balance of power in favor of the alleged contaminators and will cause severe future repercussions. Polluters can hide behind the barrier of proof beyond a reasonable doubt as they contaminate the environment because they know it will only take technicalities to derail the charges against them. This system is unfair to the plaintiffs and to the general public, who will be unable to hold the defendants responsible for the negative
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Ant Exam 3 - Jake Hanft ANT 131 3/15/10 Chevron and the...

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