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

Appeals Court again deals major blow to Exxon's attempt to avoid responsibility for record-setting Clean Air Act violations

NEW ORLEANS – In another stinging setback for ExxonMobil Corporation in a long-running environmental enforcement case, the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected nearly every argument Exxon raised in its appeal of the $19.95 million penalty previously imposed by a federal trial court judge. That trial court punished the company for committing 16,386 days of violation of the federal Clean Air Act at its Baytown, Texas, refinery and chemical plant.  

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News Release | Environment America

Statement: House advances greenest budget in recent memory

The House Appropriations Committee approved funding for a number of important environmental programs Friday as part of the FY21 funding bill for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Interior (DOI). Most notably, the budget dedicates emergency funding for many of the infrastructure proposals in the Moving Forward Act (H.R.2), including $10.2 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds. Additionally, the bill blocks the administration’s attempts to: open the Tongass National Forest to logging; drill for oil in the Arctic Refuge; expand offshore drilling; weaken protections on toxic mercury and arsenic emissions; and open the Boundary Waters to toxic pollution from sulfide mining.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Environmental Groups Take Legal Action Over Air Pollution from Industrial Flares

“In our Clean Air Act lawsuit against ExxonMobil, an expert on industrial flares testified at trial that illegal flaring emissions from the company’s Baytown petrochemical complex were probably three to four times higher than the amounts ExxonMobil reported — and that testimony went completely unrebutted,” said Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas.  “These hidden impacts on surrounding communities are significant, as the reported violations alone already totaled 10 million pounds of harmful chemicals.”

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News Release | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Suspension of EPA enforcement during the Coronavirus puts our health at risk from polluters

Late Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a new policy that would suspend enforcement of key provisions of our nation’s environmental laws during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The decision came on the heels of requests from the oil and gas industry and others seeking exemptions. Catherine Fraser, Clean Air Associate for Environment Texas Research and Policy Center, issued the following statement in response

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News Release | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Trouble in the Air: San Antonio experienced 49 days of polluted air in 2018

SAN ANTONIO– San Antonio suffered through 49 days of poor air quality due to air pollution in 2018, according to a new report from Environment Texas Research & Policy Center, Frontier Group and TexPIRG Education Fund. The report calls for reducing pollution from transportation, supporting clean and renewable energy, and increasing regulation for industrial polluters, protecting and building upon progress made by the Clean Air Act.

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