Environmental group sues EPA over pollution rules, cites Houston refineries

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 21, 2017

A Washington, D.C. -based environmental group has sued the Environmental Protection agency over what it calls "weak" air permits at Houston-area refineries.

A written statement from the plaintiffs said that Texas issues "air pollution control permits that violate the law by allowing too much pollution and make limits for some of the state's largest polluters almost impossible to enforce".

The EPA hasn't followed up to complaints about the permits at the five sites filed by the Environmental Integrity Project past year, even though the law requires a response in 60 days, the group said.

"Our goal here isn't to shut down plants, or to establish new requirements", says Gabriel Clark-Leach, an attorney for the group suing. It's one of five Texas polluters issued permits that a watchdog group says are confusing and hard to enforce.

The permits are for Exxon Mobil Corporation's Baytown Refinery and Baytown Olefins Plant as well as Pasadena Refining System's Pasadena Refinery, Motiva Enterprises Port Arthur Refinery and Southwestern Electric Power Company's Welsh Power Plant, according to the court filings. Previous EPA administrators have faced them as well. The lawsuits are an effort to force the EPA to respond to those objections.

"Our understanding is that Pruitt has directed EPA and [the Department of Justice] not to settle these kinds of cases, so we may be forced to litigate", he says. They want the EPA to intervene in permits issued to several companies by Texas's environmental regulator, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).

Spokespeople for the TCEQ and the EPA both said the agencies would not comment on pending litigation.

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