Score one for common sense. The Colorado Public Advocate reports that Dr. Ann Maest, a scientist with Boulder-based Stratus Consulting, dropped out of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mining conference this week in Denver amid challenges to her credibility following accusations that she fudged data to support a massive lawsuit against Chevron and its drilling practices in the Amazon.
Last year, Chevron fired a legal shot of their own naming Maest, along with Stratus Consulting, and the lead attorney Steven Donzinger as co-defendents in a racketeering lawsuit that accuses the defendants of seeking:
to extort, defraud, and otherwise tortiously injure plaintiff Chevron by means of a plan they conceived and substantially executed in the United States. It has been carried out by a U.S.-based enterprise comprised of, among others, U.S. plaintiffs’ lawyers, led by Donzinger; U.S. environmental consultants, led by Stratus Consulting, Inc., Ann Maest, and Doug Beltman; their Ecuadorian colleagues…These conspirators are collectively referred to herein as the ‘RICO Defendants.’
The enterprise’s ultimate aim is to create enough pressure on Chevron in the United States to extort it into paying to stop the campaign against it. The RICO Defendants have sought to inflict maximum “damage to [Chevron’s] reputation” to put “personal psychological pressure on their top executives,” to disrupt Chevron’s relations with its shareholders and investors, to provoke U.S. federal and state governmental investigations, and thereby force the company into making a payoff.
Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Maest, Stratus Consulting, and Donzinger conspired to:
- Submit “fabricated evidence in the form of expert reports in the name of a U.S. environmental consultant, Dr. Charles Calmbacher, that he did not draft or approve.
- Pressure U.S. environmental consultant David Russell to generate an inflated $6 billion damages figure.
- Intimidate Ecuadorian judges.
- Make false statements to cover up wrongdoing and obstruct Chevron’s discovery efforts.
Chevron has some strong evidence to support its accusations including video outtakes from the documentary Crude which “in part chronicles the class-action suit against Chevron” that Donzinger, Maest, and Stratus championed. The clip below is just one of many. This one is a “lunch meeting between plaintiffs’ lead U.S. lawyer Steven Donziger and plaintiffs’ U.S. consultants Charles Champ, Ann Maest and Richard Kamp,” where they admit a lack of evidence but still intend to manipulate the Ecuadorian court.
The initial case against Chevron may have been worthy, but that is now overshadowed by overzealous environmental activists who seem to want Chevron’s money more than they want justice for Ecuadorians. The negative press surrounding Maest’s appearance at the EPA mining conference including an “Occupy the EPA” protest scheduled for Wednesday, April 4, the day she was to speak, likely contributed to her dropping out and is poetic justice for someone who behaves more like an eco-gangster than a scientist.
The EPA should take this one step farther and rescind the speaking invitation to Stratus Consulting as a whole. It isn’t just Maest’s credibility that is being called into question.