Judge Says Suit Against ExxonMobil Over Baytown Pollution May Proceed

The Sierra Club and Environment Texas say ExxonMobil's own records show that Exxon has broken pollution rules 2,500 times over a five year period at its refinery and chemical plant complex in Baytown.  Environment Texas director Luke Metzger accuses Exxon of..

"Pumping out more than eight million pounds of hazardous chemicals into our air, including known cancer-causing chemicals."

Exxon argued in court that citizens' groups can't sue under the Clean Air Act, because state and federal organizations are the ones with that authority.  But on Tuesday, the judge sided with Metzger's group.  He says this lawsuit is necessary, because neither the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality nor the Environmental Protection Agency will take action.

"Congress has clearly specified in the Clean Air Act that citizens have the right to sue to enforce the law, because sometimes government agencies fall down on the job."

The case can now proceed to trial, though Metzger says he would welcome a settlement by Exxon.

"Our ideal settlement would be that they commit to make major reductions in these kinds of emissions.  We have previously settled with Chevron Phillips and Shell and got each company to commit to reduce their 'upset' emissions by over 80 percent."

No one at ExxonMobil was willing to be interviewed.  The company said in a written statement that it has spent more than a billion dollars over the last decade to improve environmental performance at its Baytown facility.  Exxon says the investment resulted in a significant reduction in upset emissions related to maintenance.

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