60 Minutes is at it again

Business and Media writes:

On CBS’s May 3 “60 Minutes,” correspondent Scott Pelley, who once compared global-warming skepticism to Holocaust denial, gave the plaintiff of a $27-billion frivolous lawsuit against Chevron a public relations victory with his report.

Pelley’s report featured a suit filed by the Amazon Defense Coalition, a group described as “eco-radicals,” who are trying to squeeze $27 billion from Chevron for environmental cleanup that the nation’s government signed off on more than a decade ago. Pelley described ADC as working on behalf of 30,000 villagers, although there are only 48 named plaintiffs, to win funds for so-called environmental damage in Ecuador’s rain forest from then-Texaco Petroleum’s (Texpet) operation of oil well sites.

Business and Media documents several dishonest elements in the piece, just one of which being:

Throughout Pelley’s account, footage was shown that included at least 13 images of currently polluted pits, none of which were Texaco-remediated sites, but weren’t attributed to PetroEcuador either. According to [Chevron representative Donald] Campbell, the polluted sites Pelley featured were PetroEcuador’s Lago Agrio 5 and one of the Shushufindi sites.

“In Texas, for example, pits like this one are supposed to be temporary, isolated from fresh water, and soon after emptied and backfilled,” Pelley said, showing a site PetroEcuador had agreed to remediate under their agreement with Texaco. “But in Ecuador this pit has been here for 25 years and we found it’s actually designed to overflow into streams.”

Only 10 seconds of footage was shown from only one Texaco-remediated site, but Pelley had told Chevron he was too busy to visit a Texaco-remediated site personally.

“If Pelley would have spent 60 minutes at a Texaco-remediated site, he would have had a different story,” Campbell said.

That’s in part because PetroEcuador has a horrendous environmental record with more than 1,000 oil spills since 2000. In 2006, BusinessWeek said the company had “suffered an oil spill every two days this year.”

(Via Power Line.)

UPDATE (6/9): The Economist gets the story straight.

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