Stop CANAMEX, Stop the Intermountain West Corridor and I-11! Stop the Sun Corridor! Stop the 202!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fluor’s Dirty Connections to Repression, War and Degradation

by a guest contributor

In January 2016, the Arizona State Department of Transportation selected “Connect 202 Partners”, a consortium of companies, to build the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway. [1] This consortium is led by a Texas-based construction and engineering firm called Fluor, a multi-billion dollar mega-contractor operating on six continents. Fluor constructs, maintains and operates oil and gas, mining, chemical and other facilities from Washington State to Mongolia. One might assume ADOT has made a wise decision, hiring an immensely profitable company with a long history and a broad range of operations. The truth, however is much dirtier.

Fluor’s business model is dependent on ignoring ‘externalities’ – the significant, largely negative effects business operations have on the local environment, local people and the climate at large. Another way of describing this is to invoke what Naomi Klein and many others have called “sacrifice zones,” or “places that, to their extractors, somehow don’t count and therefore can be poisoned, drained or, or otherwise destroyed, for the supposed greater good of economic progress.” [2] This is an apt description of what Fluor does—and profits from—all over the world. And in the context of Arizona, what Fluor and its team want to do is to turn South Mountain into such a “sacrifice zone” – sacrificing an O’odham sacred site, the health of the Gila River Indian Community and the health of all Phoenix Valley residents.

It’s true that many companies across the world benefit from externalities and sacrifice zones. But Fluor has a higher—and more negative—profile than many. The company has faced allegations of human trafficking, war profiteering, providing support to repressive governments, significant abuse of taxpayer dollars and improper lobbying. It is also connected to numerous operations where indigenous people, farmers and activists have been violently repressed—and even murdered—in order to push projects forward. And Fluor unquestionably contributes to environmental degradation and human-induced climate change across the globe.


The bulk of Fluor’s profits come from building and maintaining infrastructure for extractive industries—oil and natural gas, tar sands, mining of gold, copper and minerals. These operations inherently cause long-term environmental damage and the displacement of indigenous people, local farmers and others from their land. And in a scenario that is increasingly common, security or police forces protecting companies like Fluor have murdered local people to make sure profits keep flowing—mostly to corporations in the Global North.