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


Fed Up With Government, Environmentalists Sue Companies

In Texas, frustration from environmental groups stems from what they say is inaction on the federal and state level. Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, said the group decided to sue ExxonMobil after “years and years” of asking the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to take action. “Going through the courts is our best option. It’s kind of our last option,” Metzger said. The trial for that case began in Houston this month and is continuing.

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Testimony focuses on flaring

That was part of Friday's testimony in the trial of a "citizens suit" by two environmental groups against ExxonMobil and its Baytown subsidiaries. The groups, Environment Texas and the Sierra Club, are asking the judge to declare that the company violated its federal air permits over a nearly eight-year period and that the state regulatory agency failed to take proper enforcement action.

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Bench trial against ExxonMobil by environmental groups begins in Houston

A trial is underway in Houston that pits environmental groups against the largest refinery in Southeast Texas. The Sierra Club and Environment Texas Citizens Lobby Inc. took ExxonMobil to court over allegations it allowed millions of pounds of toxic chemicals to be released from its Baytown refinery.

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Largest-Ever Clean Air Act Lawsuit Filed In Texas Goes To Trial In Houston Federal Court

A federal trial against Exxon Mobil is getting underway today in Houston. Citizens' groups claim Exxon Mobil repeatedly violated clean air standards with the emissions from its refinery in Baytown. The Sierra Club and Environment Texas are the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The groups say Exxon Mobil has had 4,000 so-called "emissions events" at its Baytown refinery since 2005.

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Exxon Deserves $630M CAA Penalty, Enviros Say

The Sierra Club and Environment Texas Citizens Lobby Inc. told a Texas federal judge Monday that Exxon Mobil Corp. should cough up $630 million under the Clean Air Act for allegedly spewing more than 10 million pounds of noxious chemicals from a Houston-area plant.

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