A few weeks ago, I asked you to become a supporting subscriber of this newsletter in order to help us expand. I now have some exciting news to share with you: Today, investigative journalist Walker Bragman joins TMI as a contributor, and he has helped us produce a very big story.
That new report is about a landmark environmental case that threatens to set a frightening new precedent allowing private law firms to criminally prosecute fossil fuel industry critics. TMI breaks the news that in this case, a private law firm was appointed by the government to prosecute Chevron’s nemesis — and that same private law firm had done work directly for Chevron.
The story was co-published by Jacobin and The American Prospect — you can click here to read it, or check out an excerpt below.
Let me reiterate: supporting subscribers have allowed us to expand and do this kind of deep-dive reporting. Please go to sirota.substack.com/subscribe to become a supporting subscriber to help us sustain this work.
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Rock the boat,
By David Sirota and Walker Bragman
In recent years, the American government has given the fossil fuel industry hundreds of billions of dollars of subsidies and opened up wide swaths of public land for drilling. Now, as the climate crisis worsens, a federal judge has given a private corporate law firm with ties to fossil fuel companies the power to criminally prosecute one of the industry’s biggest foes—a lawyer who notched one of history’s biggest legal victories against a major oil company.
In 2011, Steven Donziger led the legal team that secured a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron for polluting the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. Chevron has not paid that claim, and last year a judge appointed a private law firm to criminally prosecute Donziger for a contempt charge in a countersuit filed by Chevron in federal court in Manhattan. That law firm, Seward & Kissel LLP, has represented Chevron itself as recently as 2018, according to recent court documents.
Put another way: The government has taken the extraordinary step of giving prosecutorial power to a law firm that has worked for Chevron—and is allowing that prosecutorial power to be aimed at Chevron’s chief adversary, who has been under house arrest for the past year.