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

Testimony to TCEQ on TPC Port Neches Enforcement Action | Catherine Fraser

Today I testified before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regarding a proposed (weak) fine against the TPC Port Neches facility (the one which blew up over Thanksgiving). Here is what I said. I’m here to speak against the proposed penalty for the TPC Port Neches Plant. Today, Environment Texas is releasing our annual report on Illegal Air Pollution in Texas. Our research found that the TPC Port Neches Plant is the second worst polluter of butadiene in the entire state of Texas, illegally emitting over 14 thousands pounds of butadiene last year alone. We know butadiene can cause cancer, and that there is no safe level of exposure to it. 

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Report | Environment Texas Research and Policy Center

Illegal Air Pollution in Texas

In 2018, 267 companies reported 4,590 breakdowns, maintenance incidents, and other unauthorized air pollution events that resulted in the release of more than 135 million pounds of illegal air pollution — more than double the amount of unauthorized emissions released the year before.

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News Release | Environment Texas

Environment Texas Statement on Port Neches Explosion

AUSTIN - This morning the TPC chemical plant in Port Neches, Texas exploded, sending three workers to the hospital and causing damage throughout the city. 

“Yet another disaster at a chemical plant in Texas, putting local communities, workers, and first responders at risk,” said Catherine Fraser, Clean Air Associate with Environment Texas. “This facility has a track record of violating the Clean Air Act, with five other illegal emissions events just in 2019, emitting carcinogenic 1,3 butadiene and other chemicals, and a history of community complaints. According to theEPA, the TPC Plant has been in non-compliance 12 separate quarters over the last 3 years, and has received 7 formal enforcement actions over the last 5 years. According to the TCEQ, the chemical of most concern is #butadiene. The TPC plant emitted 61,379 pounds of butadiene in 2018. Butadiene is a known human carcinogen.” 

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Report | Environment Texas

METRONext: Cleaner, greener transportation for Houston

On November 5, Houston area residents can improve our transportation system, while taking on climate change and reducing air pollution, by approving the METRONext plan. METRONext will expand light rail, create a new rapid transit bus system, and improve bus service across Houston - providing more of us with clean, efficient travel options.

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