Pollution At Baytown Refinery Costs Exxon $20 Million

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 28, 2017 1:34 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

It’s official. Myles Garrett joined the pros last night. The Cleveland Browns selected the Texas A&M defensive end as the first pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Arlington native told the Dallas Morning News he’s not fazed by the pressure that comes with being the number one pick.

“I’m not worried about what other people say they want me to do. My goals are higher than anybody else,” Garrett says.

A federal court has ruled against ExxonMobil in a pollution lawsuit. Environment Texas and the Sierra Club sued the energy company in 2010 for allegedly violating federal pollution laws at the company’s Baytown refinery and chemical plant.

“Based on their own reports filed with the state of Texas, they admitted they had released 10 million pounds of health-threatening pollution above and beyond what they’re legally allowed to and unfortunately the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality had not taken action to punish the company for the violations much less take action to get them to stop breaking the law,” Environment Texas Director Luke Metzger says.

Metzger says that’s why his organization and the Sierra Club stepped in.

“We used the citizen suit provision of the clean air act to file a lawsuit against Exxon to ask federal judge to order them to stop violating the law and to pay a penalty,” Metzger says.

This week a judge found ExxonMobil had violated pollution regulations more than 16,000 times at their Baytown facility. The penalty? A nearly $20 million fine which Metzger says is likely the largest civil penalty in an environmental suit brought by citizen groups.

Houston Public Media reports the company itself spent more than $1 billion on environmental improvements and regulatory compliance at the Baytown complex.

But, Metzger says, in spite of that, the facility still violates the Clean Air Act.

“However the emissions have come down significantly and we think the lawsuit is responsible for that,” Metzger says.

ExxonMobil’s nearly $20 million penalty will go to the U.S. Treasury.

The Anti-Defamation League says hate incidents – including things like anti-Semitic vandalism – are on the rise in the greater Houston area. The organization says since November there have been 43 reports of hate incidents – that’s compared to the yearly average of 25 reports in the Southwest region.