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Environmentalists In Texas To Sue Valero Energy For Air Pollution

Three environmental organizations in Texas plan to sue in federal court Valero Energy for violations of the Clean Air Act at the Port Arthur, Texas, refinery during what the groups said were “hundreds of so-called “emission events” that have occurred since May 2014.

Environment Texas, Sierra Club, and the Port Arthur Community Action Network (PA-CAN) notified Valero and the Premcor Refining Group—which own and operate the Valero Port Arthur Refinery—of their plans to sue the oil companies.

Under federal law, citizens and organizations can sue companies that have violated the Clean Air Act when state and federal authorities haven’t made them fall in line. 

“Based on available information, the Groups believe that Valero has repeatedly violated, is violating, and will continue to violate the federal

Clean Air Act (‘CAA’), the Texas State Implementation Plan, and Valero’s CAA permits by, among other things, emitting air pollutants at rates and in amounts not authorized by any permits or by state or federal regulation,” the three environmental groups said in the notice to sue.

According to the environmentalists, there have been more than 600 violations of many hourly and annual limits on emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, and other air pollutants over the past five years, as well as dozens of violations relating to improper operation of the refinery’s large industrial flares.

Related: Natural Gas Prices In The Permian Flip Negative Again

The lawsuit can be filed within 60 days in U.S. District Court in Beaumont and it would be the fifth case that Environment Texas and Sierra Club have filed since 2008 over illegal emissions from oil refineries and petrochemical facilities along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

In 2009, Environment Texas and Sierra Club settled a lawsuit with Shell over air pollution at its Deer Park, Texas, refinery and chemical plant. Last year, the two environmental groups also settled a suit with a Petrobras subsidiary for air pollution at the Pasadena refinery. Following a lawsuit filed by Environment Texas and Sierra Club that dragged on for years, ExxonMobil was ordered by a federal court in 2017 to pay US$19.95 million penalty for more than 16,000 violations of the Clean Air Act at its Baytown, Texas, refinery and chemical plant in what the environmental groups said they believed was “largest civil penalty ever imposed in an environmental “citizen suit.”

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com  

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