A Manhattan federal judge says he is leaning toward ruling that an environmental lawsuit filed against Texaco by Ecuadorian Indians should be tried in Ecuador, as Texaco prefers, rather than in the U.S. But the judge will consider arguments about whether Ecuador’s courts are independent and impartial, particularly in light of the nation’s recent military coup that deposed its president. Residents of the Oriente region of Ecuador and residents of Peru who live downstream from the region filed two lawsuits against Texaco in 1993 and 1994, alleging that a Texaco subsidiary dumped an estimated 30 billion gallons of toxic waste into their environment while extracting oil between 1964 and 1992. The plaintiffs also allege that the Ecuadorian Pipeline, constructed by Texaco, has leaked large amounts of petroleum into the region. The Indians say that they have suffered poisoning and increased cancer risk, as well as other health problems.