2014 big year for Texas’ environment

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This is already shaping up to be a big year for Texas’ environment. Decisions are about to be made that will have a major impact on air quality, the Gulf Coast and Texas rivers.

On Feb. 10, a federal trial will begin in Houston to decide a lawsuit brought by Environment Texas and the Sierra Club against ExxonMobil. At issue is the oil giant’s routine and egregious violations of the Clean Air Act at its super-sized Baytown Complex, the largest manufacturing facility in the country.

So-called “upset” events — equipment breakdowns, malfunctions and other non-routine occurrences — have led to illegal emissions of carcinogens, smog-forming chemicals and other hazardous air pollutants discharged in excess of the facility’s Clean Air Act permits. Nearly 70,000 people live within a five-mile radius of this 3,400-acre complex just east of Houston.

The lawsuit seeks to end Exxon’s violations of the law. If successful, the case could result in cleaner air for Houston and serve as a precedent for oil refinery and chemical plant operations across the country.

Also in early February, the state is expected to release its plan for spending hundreds of millions of dollars from settlements over one of the worst environmental disasters in American history, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Our Gulf Coast not only provides our families with places to swim and play in the sun, it is also home to whooping cranes and sea turtles, shrimp and crabs, snapper and trout.

Unfortunately, BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster was only the latest blow to our coastline, which has suffered from decades of neglect, oil spills, pollution and poorly planned development.

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Source: Fort Worth-Star Telegram

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