Exxon owes $19.95 million for Texas refinery pollution
U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner issued the ruling in a citizen lawsuit brought under the U.S. Clean Air Act by two environmental groups, Environment Texas and the Sierra Club.
Environment Texas welcomed the decision in the long-running suit, which was first filed in 2010.
"We think it might be the largest citizen suit penalty in U.S. history," said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas. "It definitely means it pays not to pollute."
The suit was filed under a provision of the Clean Air Act that allows citizens to sue when regulators have failed to stop pollution. The two groups had contended the penalty could run as high as $573 million, but had only sought $41 million.
In a 101-page decision, Hittner ruled there had been 16,386 days of violations and 10 million pounds (4.5 million kg) of pollutants had been released in violation of operating permits issued to Exxon for the Baytown complex. ■