Exxon Sued for Illegally Emitting 8 Million Pounds of Pollution


Photo: Steve Snodgrass via Flickr/CC BY

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil for allowing the largest oil refining plant in the nation to emit over 8 million pounds of illegal air pollution for over five years now. The Sierra Club and Environment Texas claim that the Exxon refinery, which operates on the Gulf coast, has violated federal air pollution laws "thousands of times". The AP reports:

The lawsuit against ExxonMobil is the latest by Sierra Club and Environment Texas as part of their campaign to rein in what they call "illegal emissions" by dozens of refineries and chemical plants that operate in the Texas Gulf Coast. In recent months, the groups have reached multimillion-dollar, out-of-court settlements with Shell and Chevron Phillips after filing similar suits. The groups say this is the largest of the lawsuits based on the size of the plant ...

The lawsuit accuses Exxon of violating emission limits on sulfur dioxide, a component of acid rain; hydrogen sulfide, a toxic, flammable gas characterized by a rotten egg smell; such cancer-causing agents as benzene and butadiene; carbon monoxide; and the smog-causing agent nitrogen oxide.

For its part, Exxon has stated that it plans on fighting the suit, and that the allegations are false. The oil giant says that it has invested $1 billion to install technology that reduces harmful emissions. Environmental groups appear dubious that this is the case.

The environmental groups' emissions campaign in Texas, which has so far uncovered a number of major violators of clean air laws, is part of a broader effort to get the state's pollution regulators on the ball. Green groups and the EPA have long asserted that Texas, which "has more oil refineries, chemical plants and coal-fired power plants that any other state", is too lax on monitoring pollution, and that regulators aren't doing their jobs properly.

As a result, Texans pay the price as they're subjected to harmful, unchecked air pollution.

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