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

Blog Post

EPA: Take potential Clean Air Act violations seriously. | Sara E Smith

Major facilities in Texas frequently break the law and exceed the amount of pollution they are allowed to release based on their agreed upon permit terms.

All too often, government agencies allow these violations of Clean Air permits to go unpunished, whether from lack of political will, lack of resources or other reasons.  This lax enforcement encourages facilities to continue polluting—and endangering public health—with impunity.

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Blog Post

Great opportunity for Texas clean air activists | Sara E Smith

Four Days of Play, Peers, Planning and Productive Protest 

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Blog Post

EPA: Keep the pressure on major air pollutors | Sara E Smith

This week, Environment Texas and dozens of public health, environmental justice and clean air advocates from across the country sent a letter to EPA asking that they keep the pressure on major air polluters that illegally release hazardous chemicals into our communities.

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News Release | Environment Texas

New EPA smog rules are an improvement, but not good enough

“Less health-threatening pollution is better, but it’s not good enough for the more than half a million kids in Texas with asthma and all of us who want to breathe clean air.”

-- Sara E. Smith, Environment Texas

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News Release | Environment Texas

EPA announces final rule to curb refinery pollution and improve public health

The Environment Protection Agency has just released a final rule designed to protect communities from toxic oil refinery pollution, which includes long overdue health standards and expanded air monitoring along refinery fencelines.

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