Appeals judge to hear arguments in ruling on Exxon Mobil's judgement over violations at Baytown facility
HOUSTON - Environmental activists and Baytown residents will be in a New Orleans courtroom Tuesday, once again battling Exxon Mobil in a 13-year lawsuit over the Clean Air Act.
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2010 and claims that carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, benzene, and other emissions from the Baytown facility far exceeded its permit to do so and therefore caused injuries to those who live nearby.
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"Exxon illegally released 10 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, ozone-forming chemicals and other toxic and carcinogenic pollutants into surrounding neighborhoods," said plaintiff Environment Texas in a statement.
In 2014, the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas ruled in their favor and ordered Exxon to pay $20 million in damages for more than 16,000 pollution violations between 2005 and 2013. However, in the oil and gas giant's first appeal in 2021, that judgment was lowered to $14 million, so Exxon is trying once again.
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In the filing to request the hearing, Exxon argued the environmental groups behind the case have not proven people were harmed directly from the facility's emissions.
So now the plaintiffs in this case will need to provide their evidence to the judge that these emissions were a direct cause of their injuries. That includes residents of Baytown as well as the environmental groups Sierra Club and Environment Texas.
These activists fear if Exxon was to win the appeal, it could weaken the ability to sue polluters across the country.