It’s time for Texas polluters to clean up their act

Pollution from refineries and chemical plants is making people sick, but regulators largely look the other way when big polluters break the law.

According to the UT School of Public Health, children living within two miles of the heavily industrialized Houston Ship Channel face a 56% greater risk of contracting leukemia, which researchers link to oil refineries and chemical plants. And our research has found that Houston-area petrochemical facilities violated clean air laws at least 405 times in 2015, illegally releasing 5 million pounds of pollution, including chemicals linked to asthma and cancer.

For example, ExxonMobil broke clean air laws at its Baytown oil refinery and chemical plant near Houston more than 4,000 times over five years—compounding Texas’ pollution problems and endangering the health of nearby residents.

Texas’ air quality is a major detriment to our quality of life and physical health. Poor air quality puts the most vulnerable among us, like children and seniors, at risk for asthma, strokes, and other illnesses. We have a moral responsibility to care for future generations and clean up Texas’ air to provide a better quality of life for those most at risk.

It’s clear we need to take firm action to force Texas’ biggest polluters to clean up their act. These companies should install stronger pollution controls to reduce pollution that can cause cancer and pay stiff penalties when they break the law.

A winning legal strategy

We’ve made progress in reducing air pollution in Texas in the last two decades, but more needs to be done. We need to get local, state and federal regulators to take enforcement action against big polluters and ensure clean air and compliance with the law. If citizens, communities, non-profit groups and our allies in government band together, we can force the big polluters to stop violating the law. Combining research, organizing of citizens and local elected officials, and litigation has cleaned up the air before and will again. 

Backed by our members, Environment Texas is standing up to ExxonMobil and other polluters, pressing regulators to act, and taking legal action. Using the same strategy that allowed us to force Shell Oil to clean up its Deer Park refinery in 2009, we’re exercising our right under the Clean Air Act to demand compliance with the law.

Cleaning up our air, one polluter at a time

Called by the Houston Chronicle one of the "toughest enforcers of clean-air laws in Texas," Environment Texas is taking a powerful stand against Texas' biggest air polluters.winning real results for clean air. Our lawsuits against Shell's Deer Park refinery and chemical plant and Chevron Phillips' Baytown chemical plant resulted in a reduction of one million pounds a year of air pollution in Houston. Our ongoing lawsuit against ExxonMobil's Baytown refinery offers the hope of further pollution reductions. We’ve also launched the Neighborhood Witness program to alert people living near polluting facilities when violations happen.

Click here to join our campaign, and urge the EPA to crack down on Texas' worst polluters.

Clean air updates

News Release | Environment Texas

Environment Texas and Sierra Club File Second Lawsuit to Stop Illegal Air Emissions in Harris County

HOUSTON - Sierra Club and Environment Texas filed a lawsuit today in federal district court against Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LP. The suit, coming on the heels of the groups' landmark settlement with Shell Oil Company in June targeting illegal air emissions arising from so-called "upset" events, claims that Chevron Phillips has repeatedly violated the Clean Air Act at its Cedar Bayou chemical plant in Baytown, Texas. The suit alleges the company released more than a million of pounds of excess air pollutants since 2003, including toxic chemicals such as benzene and 1,3-butadiene.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Environmental Groups and Shell Oil Company Propose Landmark Settlement of Clean Air Act Lawsuit

HOUSTON - Sierra Club and Environment Texas announced today that they have filed a proposed Consent Decree in federal court that would settle their Clean Air Act lawsuit against Shell Oil Company and two affiliates. If approved by U.S. District Judge David Hittner, the settlement would require dramatic air pollution reductions at Shell's Deer Park, Texas, refinery and chemical plant, extensive plant upgrades, enhanced monitoring of air emissions, and a record penalty for a citizen enforcement suit.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Environmental Groups Sue Shell Oil for Clean Air Act Violations at Deer Park Refinery and Chemical Plant

HOUSTON – Sierra Club and Environment Texas filed a lawsuit today in federal district court against Shell Oil Company and several affiliates. The suit – the first case in Texas in which citizen groups are suing to stop illegal air emissions arising from so-called “upset” events – claims that Shell has repeatedly violated the Clean Air Act at its Deer Park, Texas, oil refinery and chemical plant, resulting in the release of millions of pounds of excess air pollutants over the past five years, including toxic chemicals such as benzene and 1,3-butadiene.

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Report | Environment Texas

Making Sense of the "Coal Rush"

Energy companies have proposed building a fleet of new coal-fired power plants across America. As of June 2006, power producers have approximately 150 new coal-fired plants on the drawing board, representing a $137 billion investment and the capacity to supply power to 96 million homes.

If energy companies succeed in building even a fraction of these new power plants, it would have major impacts on America’s environment and economy. Further, this “coal rush” would consume investment dollars that could otherwise promote more sustainable energy sources.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Proposed Bush Administration Toxics Rule Lets Polluters Off the Hook

A new TexPIRG analysis of a proposed Bush administration rule reveals that residents of Texas would lose valuable information about the amounts and type of harmful chemicals discharged by industrial facilities in their neighborhoods if the rule is finalized.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson proposed changes to the Toxics Release Inventory Program (TRI) in October 2005 that would significantly decrease the information that the public and state and local officials have about harmful chemicals released into Texas’ water, air, and land.

“On the anniversary of the deadliest chemical accident in history in Bhopal, India, Administrator Johnson wants to help corporate polluters hide toxic pollution,” stated TexPIRG Advocate Metzger. “The Bush Administration’s proposal puts corporations first and communities last.”

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