California is the largest consumer of oil from the Amazon rainforest where rampant drilling projects are leading to deforestation and pollution, and endangering the lives of Indigenous communities, according to new research.
Forest loss in the Amazon is a driving force in the climate crisis.
According to the research, California converts 50 per cent of Amazon oil into fuel for airports such as Amazon.com, trucking fleets such as PepsiCo., and retail gas giants such as COSTCO.
Trees, especially old-growth forests, store carbon and have had an impact on slowing the climate crisis being driven by man-made pollutants like the burning of fossil fuels.
However the reverse is also true: when forests burn, tree carbon matter is pumped into the air as CO2, adding to emissions levels.
The Amazon, one of the planet’s richest regions of biodiversity and home to thousands of indigenous peoples, suffered the worst blazes in a decade last year.
The new study, published on Thursday by Stand.earth and Amazon Watch, found that an average of 89 per cent of crude oil exported each year from the Amazon comes from Ecuador.
Despite its progressive image and leaders, there is no other region in the world consuming more oil from the Amazon than California. In fact, 1 in 9 gallons of fuel pumped in 2020 in California come from the Amazon, and in Southern California, the average is 1 in 7 gallons.
Marathon, Chevron and Valero are the top three refiners of oil from the Amazon, all in California.
Of the Amazon crude that goes to the US, 27 per cent goes to Marathon, 22 per cent goes to Valero, and 17 per cent goes to Chevron. Chevron’s role is particularly notable, since the company is connected to some of the oil industry’s worst impacts in the Amazon, as well as in California.
Chevron has spent nearly $2bn fighting its court-ordered mandate to pay $9.5bn in clean-up and community reparations costs that it is responsible for in Ecuador