Oil Industry Links in Donziger Contempt Trial

A lawyer who has represented Indigenous peoples fighting Chevron for decades of pollution is now being prosecuted himself.

by | Sep 26, 2020

The lawyer of Ecuadorean people affected by Texaco-Chevron --who have long sought compensation for pollution between the 1970s and early 1990s-- Steven Donziger, speaks during a press conference on March 19, 2014 in Quito. Earlier this month, a US judge upheld Chevron's allegations that an Ecuadoran court decision ordering it to pay $9.5 billion for oil pollution in the Amazon jungle was fraudulently obtained. Donziger announced they will appeal against this decision. AFP PHOTO / RODRIGO BUENDIA (Photo credit should read RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP via Getty Images)

Just a few years ago, human rights attorney Steven Donziger was traveling from New York City to a tiny oil town in the Ecuadorian rainforest about twice a month, as part of a team working with a group of Ecuadorians to sue Chevron over toxic waste pits in the Amazon.

This November, the outcome of a New York-based criminal trial will determine whether Donziger — who eventually helped the Ecuadorians win an $18 billion dollar judgement against Chevron in the Ecuadorian courts (since reduced to $9.5 billion) — will spend time in prison himself. In response to a request from Donziger’s legal team, the private legal team appointed by a federal judge to prosecute Donziger, disclosed a link between their firm and Chevron.

Drilled News has uncovered another link between the firm, Seward & Kissel, and the oil industry: The husband of lead prosecutor Rita Glavin, Matthew S. Amatruda, who recently worked for ExxonMobil.

While Exxon is not a part of the Ecuador case, Chevron and Exxon are co-defendants in dozens of climate change-related lawsuits filed by municipalities across the United States.

Dave LaBahn, president of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys said he sees no conflict for Glavin related to Amatruda’s work for Exxon.

“He works for another company, so I think that really cleanses it,” said LaBahn.

Conflicts could potentially only arise if Amatruda worked for Chevron, or if Exxon were involved in the Donziger case, he said.

Seward & Kissel, which has handled the prosecution of Donziger since 2019, disclosed in March that it has represented Chevron as recently as 2018.

Documents obtained by Courthouse News show that through the end of May, the firm billed taxpayers nearly $260,000 for its prosecution of Donziger, a total that is likely now much higher.

Donziger’s attempts to get the case dismissed, or prosecuted by a firm without ties to Chevron, have all been denied, as was his request for a jury trial. District Court Judge Loretta Preska has also repeatedly denied Donziger’s requests to disclose ex parte communications between herself and District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, the judge who filed the contempt charge against Donziger.

Preska declined to comment. Glavin and Amatruda did not respond to a request for comment.

Amatruda joined Exxon in April 2019 after a 12-year stint as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York. While there, he was part of a team of federal attorneys prosecuting three former Mozambican government officials and two former Credit Suisse employees in a fraud and money laundering scheme.

It is unclear what Amatruda’s duties were with Exxon. The company is in the process of developing a large natural gas field in Mozambique, although the project has been delayed by the COVID-19 crisis.

Exxon has said only that Amatruda no longer works for the company.

“Judge Kaplan, who has shown nothing but animus toward me, is acting as grand jury, prosecutor, judge and jury in the same case,” Donziger said. “No country that adheres to the rule of law would ever allow such a thing to happen.”

Donziger has been working with Indigenous Ecuadorian communities since 1993, when they first filed suit against Texaco in U.S. federal court. Texaco, which drilled for oil in the Ecuadorian Amazon for about three decades beginning in the early 1960s. The communities sought to hold Texaco responsible for pollution caused by the wastewater from those operations, which Texaco had left behind buried in unlined pits.

Chevron inherited the case when it acquired Texaco in 2001. The company has called the judgement against it in the case fraudulent, and worked worldwide for years to block its enforcement.

The current charges against Donziger stem from that case.

As part of a 2014 judgement against him, Donziger was barred from profiting from the collection of the damages in the Ecuadorian judgement. When Chevron suspected him of breaking that ban, the firm asked the court to investigate, and Donziger was asked to hand over his computer and cell phone to the court, along with any communications related to the case.

When Donziger refused, arguing that the request violated attorney-client privilege and potentially endangered the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, Judge Kaplan charged him with criminal contempt.

In August 2019, Judge Preska ruled that Donziger, a husband and father who has lived in New York for decades, was a flight risk, placed him under house arrest and ordered him to post an $800,000 bond and surrender his passport.

A bench trial is scheduled to begin on November 4. If found guilty, Donziger, who has spent over a year under house arrest, could be sentenced to up to six months behind bars, or fined as much as $5,000, and compelled to hand over his cell phone and computer to the court.


Justino Piaguaje: [00:00:20] Soy Justino Piaguaje, presidente de la nacion Siekopai de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana [00:00:21][0.3]

Amy Westervelt: [00:00:27] Justino Piaguaje was born here in the Amazon. His father led the Siekopai Nation, sometimes referred to as the Sequoia. And now that job has fallen to Justino and some of his brothers. The Siekopai’s ancestral home was splintered by a war between Peru and Ecuador. If you’re not super up on your South American geography, Peru is on the west coast of South America. Ecuador is to the north of that. Colombia’s north of Ecuador and Venezuela is just around the bend further north. All of these countries are to the west of Brazil. A lot of times when people hear “Amazon,” they think Brazil. But the Amazon actually crosses into several other countries. [00:01:08][40.7]

[00:01:09] There are less than 750 people left in Justino’s tribe and they’re currently under very serious threat from COVID-19. Several have sought refuge in the Amazon, but they may struggle to find clean water there. [00:01:25][15.7]

Justino Piaguaje: este río Aguarico, hace tiempos en la explotación petrolera de Chevron Texaco invirtieron miles de barriles de petróleo,

Amy Westervelt: This is a video of Justino on YouTube. He’s standing on a bridge over a huge rushing river and he’s seeing this river, the Aguarico River, long ago when they were exploring for petroleum. The oil companies dumped thousands of barrels of oil into it. [00:01:53][3.2]

Justino Piaguaje: [00:01:54] invirtieron aguas tóxicas por este río, por este río que a nosotros por miles de años nos proveía de alimentos [00:02:02][4.0]Amy Westervelt: [00:02:03] They dumped toxic water into this river. He means wastewater from oil and gas drilling into this river that for thousands of years nourished us. [00:02:13][9.3]Justino Piaguaje: Yo soy testigo de cómo ha sido víctima nuestra gente. Se han muerto de cáncer, se han muerto de enfermedades, no han podido alimentarse bien y seguimos siendo así

Amy Westervelt: [00:02:28] I am a witness to how our people have been victimized. They had died of cancer. They have died of disease. They have not been able to eat well. And that continues today in Latin America. [00:02:39][10.9]

News clip: [00:02:39] Ecuador is seeing one of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreaks where possibly thousands dead. [00:02:45][5.2]

Amy Westervelt: [00:02:45] But that on top of various ongoing health issues. Ecuador has been a global hotspot during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some Siekopai elders have already died from the disease and to access clean water and avoid further contact with the virus, Justino and his tribe have been venturing further and further into their ancestral lands deep in the Amazon. But those lands are surrounded on all sides by oil fields and because they’ve been breathing air polluted by oil and gas refineries—and, of course, cars and other factories, too—for the past few decades, these people are more likely to die if they do catch the virus. Quarantine looks really different if to really be safe, you have to hide deep in the jungle and hope no one dumps oil or wastewater into the river you drink from. [00:03:35][6.2]

[00:03:48] Meanwhile, 3000 miles away in Manhattan, quarantine also looks really different for Steven Donziger. [00:03:56][7.4]

Steven Donziger: [00:03:58] Will you give me one minute? I just have to run to the bathroom. [00:04:00][2.6]

Amy Westervelt: [00:04:00] Yeah, go for it. [00:04:01][0.2][00:04:01] Donziger is talking to me from his two bedroom apartment in Manhattan. We spent May and June talking every weekend by Zoom, him, me and my co reporter on this season, Karen Savage… [00:04:12][11.0]

[00:04:13] Hey Karen [00:04:13][0.0]

Karen Savage: [00:04:14] Hey, how are you? [00:04:15][0.7]

Amy Westervelt: [00:04:15] I’m good. How are you? [00:04:16][0.8]

Karen Savage: [00:04:17] I’m good. Back in Boston. [00:04:18][1.1]

Steven Donziger: [00:04:21] Can you hear me? [00:04:21][0.2]

Amy Westervelt: [00:04:21] Yeah. [00:04:21][0.0]

Steven Donziger: [00:04:22] Sorry about that. [00:04:22][0.4]

Amy Westervelt: [00:04:23] He liked to leave the video on and would spend the majority of our time kind of hanging his head out the window, trying to get fresh air and sunshine. He’s got all the clean water he needs. But sun and air are hard to come by. [00:04:36][12.9]

Steven Donziger: [00:04:37] Everyone goes outside even in the pandemic or with a facemask in New York right now. The great thing or good, actually, Shaw is a walk in the park. I can’t do that. [00:04:45][8.5]

Amy Westervelt: [00:04:46] While we were all calling quarantine lockdown this year. Donziger has literally been on lockdown. [00:04:51][4.3]

[00:04:51] He’s been on house arrest for over a year at this point to leave his apartment. He has to submit a request to the court 48 hours in advance and then provide documentation of where he’s gone. We’ll find out why and what that has to do with a river in the Amazon. After this quick break. I’m Amy Westervelt. Welcome back to Drilled. This is season five, La Lucha En La Jungle: The Rumble in the Jungle. [00:05:19][27.3]

NPR clip: [00:05:32] The judge in Ecuador has ordered the oil company Chevron to pay more than nine billion dollars in damages and other costs. It’s the result of a long running lawsuit involving pollution in the Amazon jungle. The damages are more than Exxon back in 2011. [00:05:47][14.9]

Amy Westervelt: [00:05:48] Stephen Donziger helped win a big case against the oil giant Chevron as a result. Chevron was ordered to pay more than nine billion dollars to clean up waste pits of oil and refining fluids left in the Ecuadorian Amazon by Texaco, the company Chevron acquired in 2000. But the case didn’t end there. Back in the U.S., Chevron took Donziger and the other lawyers to civil court filing a racketeering case against them, otherwise known as a RICO case and accusing them of fraud. Donziger and the other attorneys lost that case back in 2014. But in 2018, the judge in that RICO case, came after him. [00:06:29][40.6]

Steven Donziger: [00:06:29] He ordered me to turn over my computer and cell phone to Chevron’s lawyers in the middle of a litigation. And it’s sort of like asking a board to turn over his or her confidential case file to your adversary counsel, or right in the middle of litigation. It’s obviously a major intrusion into my rights, into the rights of my clients who are entitled to have confidentiality with their lawyer. [00:06:53][24.1]

[00:06:55] And I just felt like it was an illegal order. So I told them, like, you know, I can’t turn this over without violating my ethical duties to myself and to my clients in Ecuador. So I’m gonna appeal it. [00:07:13][18.5]

Amy Westervelt: [00:07:14] Donziger hadn’t filed his appeal yet when he heard from the judge again. [00:07:16][2.8]

Steven Donziger: [00:07:17] So what happened was I was up in Toronto working with the legal team for the Ecuadorians in Canada because that’s the country where there’s a lot of work being done to enforce the judgment against Chevron internationally over my computer or cable notification that this judge would charge me with crimes. I was shocked, to say the least. And he had ordered me to appear in court. [00:07:42][24.3]

[00:07:42] I think a week later, Judge Kaplan charged him with criminal contempt, but in conjunction with a civil case. So while the original case could result in fines, this one could actually land Donziger in jail. [00:07:54][12.1]

[00:07:55] Basically, there’s no statute for assault like assault or burglary or murder. Basically, if a judge decides that a person, a lawyer who was practicing before him treats the court with disrespect or somehow doesn’t comply with an order that the judge feels is in a sufficient kind of way, the judge can actually take that on his or her own volition with no check on his or her power or can charge a lawyer with a court. It’s an awesome, enormous power that is easily subject, in my view, to abuse. [00:08:34][38.3]

Amy Westervelt: [00:08:35] Kaplan, a senior U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York, has charged Donziger with contempt for refusing to hand over his files and for a few other things that will get to in future episodes. When he got back from Canada a few days after this trip, he was on Donziger, headed to court, intending to ask for a couple of weeks to give him time to hire a lawyer. He thought it would be a pretty straightforward administrative thing. His wife and a couple of friends came with him. [00:09:02][26.5]

[00:09:04] First day I walked into court on August six with my wife and a couple of friends, and I was like, you know, this is going to be like, no problem. I mean, you know, I’ve been coming to courts and 10 years in this courthouse and I’m a lawyer and, you know, I’ve never committed a crime. You know, they’re just going to I’m just going to ask you two weeks so I can figure out how to hire a lawyer and then we’ll come back and watch, figure out what we’re going to do. Instead, I realized pretty quickly there was like this thing in the air, the hostility of the judge and her clerks, the court personnel. [00:09:38][34.4]

Amy Westervelt: [00:09:40] So when a judge like Kaplan charges a lawyer with criminal contempt, they’re not allowed to oversee that case themselves. Instead, another judge is supposed to be selected at random. This is to cut down on any personal animus or bias a judge might have against a lawyer who has disrespected him or his court. Donziger has accused Kaplin of hand picking the judge for his case. Her name is Loretta Preska. She’s a fellow of the Federalist Society, just like Kaplan and Donziger thinks it’s all suspicious. Here he is again. [00:10:13][33.5]

Steven Donziger: [00:10:15] They subjected me to an interview with what’s called a pretrial services officer, which is an office, an office in the courthouse. That interviews people charged with crimes to determine what their conditions of release demands should be. And they assess your financial assets and your likelihood that you’re going to flee. And they were treating me like I was just like a criminal. They required me to give up my passport and ask, did you have your passport on you or did you know? No, I did. I did. They they what they do is they give you a few days to comply with the threat of jail hanging over you if you don’t comply. I mean, obviously, I’m going to give up my passport order by the court. And also I have no lawyer. You know, I’m not a criminal defense lawyer. Then just because you’re a lawyer doesn’t mean you’re a good lawyer for every situation by any means. [00:11:04][49.0]

[00:11:04] So I needed a lawyer and I told the judge I really don’t want to do anything without a lawyer. So she found a lawyer for me in the courthouse who agreed to represent me just for purposes of heartedness, what’s called an arraignment. [00:11:18][13.5

[00:11:20] So I had to wait for him to show up. [00:11:21][1.7]

Amy Westervelt: [00:11:22] So this is all happening behind the scenes in the offices of the courthouse. Meanwhile, Donziger’s wife and friends are waiting for him. And time is passing and everyone is just starting to get really worried. [00:11:35][13.2]

Steven Donziger: [00:11:37] And I remember we went back to this to the jury room, which was empty so we could have some privacy. And he looked to me and he goes, he goes, you’re living a nightmare. [00:11:48][11.8]

[00:11:49] And, you know, when I walked back to that jury room, I passed my wife, who was sitting in the gallery know. [00:11:55][5.3]

[00:11:56] Completely flipped out. [00:11:57][1.0]

[00:11:59] And she’s with a good friend of mine, Karen Hinton, and I, I, I mouthed to them, I said, I think they’re going to try to put me in jail today. [00:12:07][8.8]

Amy Westervelt: [00:12:09] At this point, Donziger’s memory of this day starts to get a little hazy. The way your memory does when you’re in an incredibly stressful situation. He doesn’t remember much about standing in front the judge, but he does remember the prosecutor. [00:12:22][12.6]

Steven Donziger: [00:12:23] There was a prosecutor there, actually, three of them. And this was another very bizarre feature. I think unprecedented was the judge Kaplan’s criminal charges first took them to the US attorney’s office in New York. That’s the office that is the regular prosecutor. And they looked at the charges and refused to prosecute the charges, which I think speaks volumes about whether they’re worthy. [00:12:48][25.6]

[00:12:49] Instead, he appointed a private law firm, that is, he went to a corporate law firm and said, you’d be the prosecutor. I’ll use my inherent powers to us, judge, to let you act as the US government. The firm was called Seward and Kissell. [00:13:05][16.2]

Amy Westervelt: [00:13:06] By the time he left that courtroom, Donziger was terrified and in a daze. [00:13:11][4.5]

Steven Donziger: [00:13:12] Basically, they said I had to put up an eight hundred thousand dollar bar, give up my passport and wear an ankle bracelet 24/7 and not leave my apartment. I was so freaked out by the time I walked out of court to go get my ankle bracelet. I almost was just relieved to be going home. Right. They could have they could have put me in handcuffs, ankle bracelet and shackles. And like, I would have been in a weird way, relieved to just go to my house, but I would get the hell out of there and get home and just regroup and get a lawyer and figure out my next step. So, you know, I then had to go to the sources and I had to wait around and I got fitted with an ankle bracelet and fingerprinted. [00:13:56][44.1]

Amy Westervelt: [00:13:57] Then he had to go straight home. No lunch, no stops along the way. [00:14:00][3.2][00:14:01] When we finally got out of there, like two hours later when the hearing had been at 10 a.m., so we finally maybe left the court at 11 o’clock. [00:14:11][9.6]

[00:14:12] And from that point on, I had not been a free man. Like, I couldn’t go grab lunch. I had to go right to the subway. [00:14:20][7.4]

[00:14:22] I had to sort of be that person with an ankle bracelet. So you’re always aware of the subway. Whether your pants are covering your bracelet. Because it’s at the bottom of your leg. People look at it funny. [00:14:33][10.8]

Amy Westervelt: [00:14:34] That relief he felt to be going home was pretty quickly replaced by panic. He still had to come up with $800,000 or he’d be put in jail. And the judge had given him one week to come up with that money. He decided to put his apartment up as the bond and the court accepted that. So he was in the clear. [00:14:53][19.3]

[00:14:54] About a week later, Chevron—who as I said their lawyers were in court monitoring my criminal case. So the civil RICO case, they had convinced Kaplan to impose court costs on me to cover some of their costs. So in addition to trying to destroy my reputation, take all my money, seize my bank accounts and then ultimately deprive me of my liberty. So part of the financial side of the attack Chevron had, prior to my appearance in the criminal contempt case, they had gotten a eight hundred thousand dollar costs order against me from Judge Kaplan to pay some of their court costs. [00:15:34][39.8]

[00:15:35] In any event, when I posted the bond secured by my apartment, suddenly the prosecutor. Showed up with a new letter saying we’re concerned about it because Chevron has some sort of notice of lien on his apartment because of this eight hundred thousand dollar cost order that Kaplan issued against me like a year or two before. And they said that as a result, that apartment is not unencumbered and it’s not it’s not adequate to post the bond because Chevron has a claim on my apartment. [00:16:08][33.6]

[00:16:09] So the judge got appointed by Kaplan, immediately issued an order agreeing with the prosecutor, giving me 48 hours to find a substitute. [00:16:19][10.0]

Amy Westervelt: [00:16:23] This stressed me out when Donziger told me about it, and it stresses me out again, just listening to it. If you’ve ever worried about how you’re going to pay rent or a medical bill or grocery bill, the idea of having 48 hours to come up with eight hundred thousand dollars or you’re going to jail. [00:16:40][17.8]

[00:16:42] Wow. And just to note here that, of course, this happens all throughout our criminal justice system. [00:16:48][6.0

[00:16:49] There are people sitting in jails all over the country right now because they couldn’t afford a bond, whether it’s eight hundred dollars or eight hundred thousand dollars. It’s a terrible situation to be in. So at this point, Donziger’s having a full blown panic attack. [00:17:05][15.4]

Steven Donziger: [00:17:06] I wrote an e-mail and basically put it out there. Where l explained the exact situation. [00:17:12][5.3

[00:17:15] And I sent it out to five people. It’s probably eight o’clock at night. It’s the most bizarre thing happened. I got a phone call 10 minutes later. [00:17:30][15.3]

Amy Westervelt: [00:17:31] Wow. [00:17:31][0.0]

Steven Donziger: [00:17:32] From a man who lives in San Francisco. That I’ve known for 20, 25 years. [00:17:38][5.9]

[00:17:41] He’s probably– before this happened, he was one of the people I admire most in the world. [00:17:47][5.9]

[00:17:48] He’s done a lot of work in Ecuador for indigenous peoples. And he called me up with, like. Literally, no questions asked. [00:17:57][9.1]

[00:17:57] Says I’ll do it. [00:17:58][0.6]

[00:18:00] I mean, honestly, just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. Is. [00:18:05][5.6]

[00:18:08] Well, it’s sort of hard to explain, like when you’re when you’re really down and you put out a plea to the world and it just kind of reinforces your face because, you know, most people give a shit, they really care. [00:18:29][20.7]

Amy Westervelt: [00:18:38] So he avoided jail. But he can’t set foot outside his apartment door without his ankle bracelet going off. And like I said before, if he wants to leave the apartment, he has to request permission 48 hours in advance and it might not be granted. It’s not an automatic thing. [00:18:52][15.0]

Steven Donziger: [00:18:53] I’m tracked 24/7, even around my own apartment. My ankle bracelet, which is very big and and feels like a garage door opener opener, you know, on my ankle—I call it the Black Claw. It talks to me sometimes, wakes me and my wife up in the middle of the night. And when the battery runs low, it says, this weird kinda a Caucasian male voice that’s taped, comes out and says something like. I’ve heard it so many times. [00:19:26][32.5]

[00:19:28] Exactly. Right now. Something like: battery, low recharge unit, battery, low recharge unit. And it just keeps repeating it over and over. So, you know, I have to get up and go. There’s a base that we’re the battery, the other batteries charging, and I have to change the battery in the middle of the night. But the crazy part about that, I mean, you know, that might happen once every couple of weeks when I don’t get the timing right or the battery didn’t charge right. Like, literally every night I go to bed worried it’s going to happen. [00:20:03][35.0]

Amy Westervelt: [00:20:04] Again, Donziger has still not had a trial. The charge against him is a misdemeanor and the maximum sentence is six months house arrest. He’s been on house arrest for more than a year. I spoke with him just a few days before his trial is supposed to happen. He’s been asking for it to be postponed again because the covert restrictions make it impossible for his lawyers to show up. There’s been a whole back and forth. The court seems to be pretty intent on pushing the trial forward. And Donziger’s really, really worried that their whole goal is to just put him in jail right now. [00:20:39][35.1]

Steven Donziger: [00:20:39] It’s the week before Labor Day, 2020. And I have my criminal contempt trial without a jury, without my lawyers, because they were just disqualified, is scheduled for six days from now. And the judge is trying to force me into trial, taking extraordinary measures to put me on trial, in my opinion, so they can incarcerate me in basically a proceeding that would be totally unfair and unconstitutional. [00:21:08][28.5]

Amy Westervelt: [00:21:10] When we spoke before about this possibility, he said he’s worried about what might happen to him there. It’s not just about being locked up, especially during a pandemic when Covid rates are quite high in prisons. This past year has not been good for his mental health. [00:21:26][16.2]

Steven Donziger: [00:21:29] I have an adolescent son, 13 year old son. The white family in a very uncertain future. [00:21:34][5.3]

[00:21:35] It’s enormously stressful. And it affects your sleep. It affects your outlook. It affects everything about life. It’s very psychologically destabilizing. And I would argue it’s designed. I mean, that’s why they’re doing. [00:21:52][17.4]

Amy Westervelt: [00:22:03] So we know how Donziger wound up with an ankle bracelet under house arrest in his Manhattan apartment. But you might still be wondering why. Why would an oil company, as Donziger alleges, go to this much trouble to shut him down? On our next episode, we’re going to get into all of that and how the heck this all happened. This is a story with a lot of different sides and sometimes even people who seem like they’d be on the same team don’t see eye to eye in any way at all. Ultimately, after reading thousands and thousands of pages of court documents and spending dozens of hours talking to people involved in the case, I think I probably agree most with this guy. [00:22:45][42.8]

Alec Baldwin: [00:22:50] Mmhmm am I unmuted? Okay. [00:22:50][0.0]

Amy Westervelt: [00:22:50] Yeah. That’s Alec Baldwin. Somehow he wound up involved in this case, too. [00:22:53][3.8]

I’ll Alec Baldwin: [00:22:54] There’s only one issue that needs to be discussed here, and that is what is the right thing to do on behalf of the Ecuadorian people? [00:22:59][5.0]

Amy Westervelt: [00:23:01] Of course, not everyone agrees on what exactly the right thing to do for the Ecuadorians is either to try to source all of that out. [00:23:07][6.5]

[00:23:08] We’ll head back to Ecuador and back in time, all the way to the 1960s. Come back for that. [00:23:14][6.3]

[00:23:25] Drilled is an original production of the Critical Frequency podcast network. It’s reported and produced by me. Amy Westervelt, my co reporter on this season was Karen Savage. Our editor is Julia Ritchey. The show’s editorial consultant is Rekha Murthy. Mixing and mastering by Mark Bush. Original Score composed by Bhi Bhiman. Additional Production Help from Sara Ventre. Our fact checker was Wudan Yan. Additional reporting for this episode from Emily Gertz. Our First Amendment attorney is James Wheaten with the 1st Amendment Project. You can find corresponding stories and supplemental information, documents and photos on our Web site at Drilled news dot com. You can also follow us on Twitter at We are Drilled. If you are a Patreon subscriber, thank you very much for your support. It is paying bills on this podcast right now. We appreciate it. And we are working on bringing you more perks to your membership. One of those is early access to episodes from this season. So if you don’t want to wait until next week for episode two, you can go find it in your feed. Right now, if that sounds appealing to you and you’re listening and you’re not a Patreon member, go and fix that. It’s Patreon dot com slash Drilled will drop a link to that in the show notes as well. All right. That’s it for this time. Thanks for listening. And we’ll see you next week. [00:23:25][0.0]


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Karen Savage is an investigative journalist who has reported on climate change-related itigation, environmental justice, policing, and other social justice issues. Her work has appeared in Climate Docket, Undark Magazine, In These Times, Project Earth, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, Truthout, City Limits, and more. Karen is an alum of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, where she won the Sidney Hillman Award for Social Justice Reporting.