On May 27, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to reinstate a $641 million lawsuit representatives from Environment Texas and the Sierra Club brought against energy giant ExxonMobil for violating the Clean Air Act at its Baytown, Texas, oil refinery complex. The groups allege Exxon has thousands of air pollution violations, and are fighting for the government to properly enforce the law and protect the public’s health by penalizing the company. Houston-based attorney Philip H. Hilder, who represents the environmental groups in the lawsuit, says:
The opinion is significant because it ratifies enforcement of the Clean Air Act by ordinary citizens when the government refuses to do its job. This type of action is the great equalizer, holding corporations accountable where the government has failed.
Luke Metzger, Director of Environmental Texas, echoes Hilder:
After six years of litigation against one of the state’s biggest polluters, justice has finally been served. The appeals court confirms that even the world’s most powerful corporations must be held accountable when they violate our environmental and public health laws.