The Biggest Energy Companies In The World Are Getting Busted For Their Pollution.
So What Should You Do?
Newsweek’s own editorial board has been calling for more transparency about the environmental risks posed by the energy companies that dominate the global economy.
In the meantime, the world’s largest energy company, ExxonMobil, is making its case for its continued dominance.
The company announced today that it would pay $100 million to the U.S. Justice Department for “a number of actions that will result in the immediate and permanent relief from certain environmental and other regulatory actions it has taken,” including a recent lawsuit against the state of Texas over the spillway at its oil refinery in Corpus Christi.
The new settlement, which ExxonMobil has described as a “pre-emptive” strike, will help resolve several cases it has brought against Texas over environmental and safety violations and “significant mismanagement” of the oil spillway.
ExxonMobil will also pay a $50 million civil penalty and $100,000 fine to the state, the company said in a statement.
As the company announced in February, the federal government’s “preemption” lawsuit “has been brought in an effort to prevent ExxonMobil from operating its current oil refinery, which has not been adequately cleaned up and is located at an unacceptable risk to human health and the environment.”
That lawsuit was filed in March, and in May, the Justice Department announced it would seek “reinstatement” of fines from the ExxonMobil settlement.
But ExxonMobil’s lawyers said the settlement is an extension of the federal investigation, and that the company was never targeted for a lawsuit in the first place.
They pointed to the company’s settlement with the government over the BP oil spill in 2010, which was also reached with a federal lawsuit.
Exxon’s attorney, Thomas K. Hockenberry III, said in an email that the $100-million settlement is a “non-disclosure agreement that allows the Company to continue to pursue its legal challenges without the exposure of its confidential information.”
He said that while the company had paid $8.5 billion to the Justice, “no money will ever be paid to any person or entity for the settlement.”
Hockensberry also said that the government’s lawsuit “was not an attempt to recover any damages.”
Exxon’s deal with the Justice will likely end up being challenged in court, which is expected to begin this month.
The lawsuit brought by the Texas Department of State Health Services, which oversees the spillways at the refinery, alleges that Exxon violated federal and state environmental laws and regulations.
The state said in its lawsuit that Exxon breached the spill’s environmental safety and public health standards, failed to ensure the safety of employees at the facility, and failed to follow safety protocols.
Exxon said in the settlement that it “is pleased to resolve the matter in a way that allows it to continue operations while ensuring the safety and quality of its products.”
“The settlement is just one of the many steps that ExxonMobil is taking to address the concerns of its employees and the community,” the company wrote in a press release.
“ExxonMobil continues to work diligently with the Texas Office of Environmental Quality to implement its Clean Texas Plan and the State of Texas Cleanup Plan, as well as to develop and implement a program to help prevent further environmental damage from future spills.”
As of today, the state’s complaint against Exxon claims the refinery has not yet cleaned up the spill and that it will likely remain “unsafe” for years.
The Texas Department Of State Health Sciences, the agency that oversees the refinery and the state environmental department, said that Exxon has taken steps to reduce its emissions.
“We continue to work with ExxonMobil to minimize environmental damage,” the agency said in December.
“The refinery’s pollution is contained, and the environmental monitoring program continues to monitor air quality and conduct air quality sampling to monitor the refinery’s emissions.”
Exxon has said that it plans to meet the requirements of the Clean Texas plan, which requires it to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, benzene, and hydrocarbon compounds, by 30 percent by 2025 and by 40 percent by 2030.
Exxon has also said it will meet the emissions reduction targets set out in the state plan.
Exxon will also contribute $200 million to Texas’ Safe Drinking Water Fund, which helps fund public health projects in communities impacted by oil spills.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit says Exxon has “abused its control of oil infrastructure to delay cleaning and to block clean-up efforts.”
ExxonMobil sued Texas in 2013 over the contamination of its refinery.
The State Department of Environmental Enforcement accused Exxon of “failing to provide adequate information to the EPA regarding its remediation plan, including the number of employees needed, the number and type of remediation methods, the frequency and duration of actions taken, and other key factors.”
Exxon said that state officials failed to respond to requests to