Energy & Environment

Federal Judge In Houston Rules Against Exxon-Mobil In Pollution Lawsuit Over Baytown Plant

Judge David Hittner found the oil giant violated pollution laws for more than 16,000 days at the largest petrochemical and petroleum complex in the country.

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ExxonMobil Baytown Refinery

A federal court in Houston has ruled against Exxon-Mobil in a pollution lawsuit filed by environmentalists.

 On Wednesday, the court fined the giant energy company nearly $20 million dollars for violating the federal Clean Air Act at its Baytown facility.

Two environmental groups – Environment Texas and the Sierra Club – sued Exxon-Mobil in 2010 and accused it of violating federal pollution laws.

The Baytown complex is believed to be the largest petrochemical and petroleum complex in the U.S. District Judge David Hittner found the company violated pollution laws there for more than 16,000 days.

The groups who sued celebrated the win and said they believe it’s the largest-ever fine levied in this type of lawsuit. The company said in a statement it disagrees with the ruling and is considering its legal options, including appealing the judge’s decision.

The case did show the company tried to clean up its act. Court documents indicate annual pollution violations at the facility dropped by 95 percent in recent years.

The almost $20 million fine isn’t small. But evidence in the case showed the company has already spent more than $1 billion on environmental improvements and regulatory compliance at the facility.

Read the judge’s complete ruling here.

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Travis Bubenik

Energy & Environment Reporter

Travis Bubenik reports on the tangled intersections of energy and the environment in Houston and across Texas. A Houston native and proud Longhorn, he returned to the Bayou City after serving as the Morning Edition Host & Reporter for Marfa Public Radio in Far West Texas. Bubenik was previously the...

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