Resourceful Earth had previously written about the ongoing story of Ann Maest and her questionable role in a legal battle against Chevron in Ecuador. There has been yet another surprising new twist in a decades long case that has been plagued with suspicious behavior by the plaintiffs and a judge who admitted that he was paid money to steer the case in the plaintiffs favor (even allowing some of his conclusions to be ghost written by the plaintiffs).
You may remember that this all started when one of the lead lawyers, Steven Donziger, was caught on tape telling Stratus Consulting “experts” – including Ann Maest- his opinion that the truth and science didn’t matter in this case, and that it was all “smoke and mirrors and bull****.”
Now we discover that Stratus Consulting has decided to recant its original testimony against Chevron:
“In addition to appealing the decision in the Ecuadorean courts, Chevron also filed a countersuit in federal court in New York against Mr. Donziger and Stratus Consulting, accusing them of racketeering and fraud. Because Stratus has now retracted its statements on the Ecuadorean pollution, Chevron agreed not to pursue claims against the firm anymore. On Friday, Chevron filed witness statements from Douglas Beltman, a Stratus vice president, and Ann Maest, a Stratus scientist, in which they now say they were not aware of scientific evidence of groundwater contamination in the former Texaco concession area or of any adverse health impact to people from the operations.
Mr. Beltman stated that ‘at Donziger’s direction,’ he drafted portions of a report in the first person as if it were written by Richard Cabrera, the supposedly independent expert, that detailed environmental damage for the Ecuadorean court. ‘Donziger stressed to me and Ann Maest the importance of Stratus ensuring that no one learn of Stratus’ involvement in any aspect of the Cabrera Report or Responses,’ he said.
In an interview, Mr. Beltman said, “This settlement was extensively negotiated with Chevron and we think it’s fair and it’s not extortion.” (emphasis mine)
The decision to recant proves that Maest and her co-conspirators have been willing to put environmental activism and politics ahead of true science, which should cause anyone to logically wonder if they are fit to serve as “scientific experts” in future cases.
But in a blatant disregard for their record, the Environmental Protection Agency has hired Ann Maest and Stratus Consulting for ongoing contract work.. In other words, our tax dollars are being spent to fund a company that has admitted to lying in court – discrediting the very science they use to consult our government and policy makers.
Given that Ann Maest and others from Stratus Consulting were caught on tape agreeing to twist their “science” to implicate Chevron, it should be obvious that Stratus is not a company that should be an EPA consultant. This is especially true for cases that are under scrutiny from environmental pressure groups, like the case in Ecuador.
If Stratus Consulting and Maest were willing to get involved with radical environmental trial lawyers attempting to manipulate the legal system, how can their work be trusted?