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

Four environmental advocacy groups and a Permian Basin midstream gas company have settled a Clean Air Act lawsuit

The Environmental Integrity Project, Sierra Club, Environment Texas, and Texas Campaign for the Environment reached the agreement with the gas plant’s owner, DCP Operating Company, after the company agreed to make improvements that reduce gas flaring. The company also agreed to pay $500,000 to help improve local air quality and public health in the Odessa area. In addition, the company agreed to pay automatic penalties in the future – up to $14,500 per ton of hydrogen sulfide – if emissions exceed certain limits. 

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Blog Post

Testimony to the EPA in support of cleaner air for Texas | Michael Lewis

EPA has proposed downgrading Houston, DFW and San Antonio for smog 

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News Release | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Statement: Ft. Bend county’s W.A. Parish coal plant catches fire

For decades, NRG Energy’s W.A. Parish coal-fired power plant in Fort Bend county has also threatened public health and the natural environment. EPA data identified the plant as the third most heavily polluting plant in the state, emitting almost 10.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 30,000 metric tons of methane and 50,000 metric tons of nitrous oxide. A 2018 study by Dr. Daniel Cohan’s research group in Rice University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering estimated that Parish is responsible for 177 premature deaths annually.

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Report | Environment America Research & Policy Center

Progress Report: President Biden’s First Year

Following years of rollbacks, President Joe Biden began his term nearly a year ago amidst unprecedented environmental and public health challenges. Despite these obstacles, his administration has made significant strides toward restoring lost environmental protections and confronting daunting threats to our climate and public health, according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. 

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News Release | Environment America

Statement: U.S. House of Representatives passes historic climate investments

WASHINGTON -- Following a summer of extreme heat and drought, the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed the Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), which includes groundbreaking levels of investment to reduce global warming pollution, clear the air we breathe, clean up toxic sites and protect our lands, waters and wildlife. 

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