NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York has refused, for now, to halt collection of an $18 billion court judgment against the energy giant Chevron for environmental damage in an Ecuadorean rain forest.
In one sense, the case shows the potential costs that can accrue from the massive consolidation of the oil industry into just a handful of mega-firms. Oil companies that have acquired former competitors wind up shouldering legal liabilities as well as assets.
In this case, Courts in Ecuador have ordered San Rramon-based Chevron to pay the steep penalty for pollution that occurred when Texaco was operating in the forest, between 1972 and 1990. Texaco became a Chevron subsidiary 11 years later, in 2001.
The company has argued that the court action in Ecuador was a fraud, and wants a U.S. court to block collection.
Judge Lewis Kaplan on Friday said it was too early for him to intervene.
Chevron said in a statement that it was clear that the judge left the door open to rule differently in the future.