Brazil is going to great lengths to protect its commons.
Seventeen executives, including American citizens, working with Chevron and oil rig contractor Transocean, have been charged with crimes against the environment in Brazil after an oil spill off the coast poured about three thousand barrels of oil into Brazilian waters last November. If found guilty – the corporate executives could face up to 31 years in prison.
The lead prosecutor in the case told Reuters he was tired of big oil corporations escaping accountability for ruining the environment saying, “We need to change the parameters. If companies don’t listen to millions, we have to ask for billions.”
After the spill – Brazilian authorities immediately suspended all of Chevron’s drilling operations and banned the corporation from further oil explorations off the coast. Transocean is a familiar name – it was the corporation operating the Deepwater Horizon oil rig that exploded in the Gulf back in 2010 – leading to the death of 11 workers and the worst ecological disaster in American history.
But that’s where the similarities between Brazil and the United States end. Because unlike Brazil – where corporate oil-industry criminals are actually arrested and held to account – not one corporate executive in the U.S. has yet been charged for their role in the death of 11 people in the Gulf and the permanent destruction of coastal ecosystems. And even worse, BP continues to expand its drilling operations in the the deep waters of the United States like nothing ever happened.