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

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Environmental Group In Texas Watches SCOTUS Decision On EPA Pollution Rules

“A lot of pollution travels across state lines,” says Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas, “and impacts the health of other citizens of the United States. A few years back [the EPA] proposed new standards that would require some of the biggest sources of air-pollution, dirty power plants, to control [their emissions].”

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Headline

Legal Hammer Spurs Cleaner Skies

"We routinely heard that many of these upsets were out of their control, and that we would have to live with it," said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas. "But that's not true. If they can spend the time and money, they can reduce emissions."

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News Release | Environment Texs

Clean Air Act settlements resulted in huge emissions reductions, making Houston's air cleaner

HOUSTON – Sierra Club and Environment Texas announced today that Shell Oil Company and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company have each cut illegal air pollution from major “upset” events at their Gulf Coast plants by about 95%.  Those reductions are even more than was required by their settlements of federal Clean Air Act lawsuits brought by the environmental groups, and have contributed to recent efforts to improve air quality in the Houston metropolitan area.

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Headline

State remains lax when it comes to regulating refineries

Environment Texas and Sierra Club are bringing a Clean Air Act lawsuit to force Exxon to do a better job at preventing incidents, a part ofthe TCEQ mission that has been left unfulfilled

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Headline

Shell to spend millions to reduce pollution

Shell to spend millions to reduce pollution By Matthew Tresaugue Shell Oil Co. on Wednesday agreed to spend about $160 million to settle legal complaints about chronic pollution problems at its refinery and petrochemical plant along the Houston Ship Channel. Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, said Shell's agreement with the EPA builds on the earlier settlement. "Our goals in filing these suits was first to get Shell and others to stop breaking the law and polluting, but also to press the state and federal government to step up their enforcement of refineries and chemical plants," he said. "We're succeeding on both fronts." Environment Texas and the Sierra Club also have filed a similar suit over emissions at Exxon Mobil's Baytown complex, which includes a refinery and two chemical plants.

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