Oct. 31, 2017
By Giving ExxonMobil a Slap on the Wrist, Feds Tell Polluters, ‘Don’t Worry About Enforcement in the Trump Administration’
Statement of Adrian Shelley, Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office
Note: The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced an enforcement action against ExxonMobil to correct improper operation of flares at eight facilities in Texas and Louisiana, including two facilities in Baytown, Texas; two in Beaumont, Texas; and one in Mont Belvieu, Texas. ExxonMobil will be fined $2.5 million for violations at the eight facilities and pay an additional $2.5 million for supplemental environmental projects.
This enforcement action is a slap on the wrist for ExxonMobil. A mere $2.5 million dollars for years of violations at eight facilities is hardly a punishment. And the corrective measures are things that any well-operated facility should have done years ago. Today’s action by EPA sends a clear message to polluters: Don’t worry about your Clean Air Act violations. The EPA will clear them right up.
The corrective actions imposed on ExxonMobil – installation of flare gas recovery systems and operation and maintenance procedures designed to increase flare efficiency – have been available for years and already should be undertaken by any well-operated facility.
Similarly, the monitoring required by this enforcement action is already required of oil refineries and is hardly a useful technology. Monitoring data will be made publicly available via the internet, but only days or weeks after pollution has occurred. This information will not be useful to people who wish to make real-time decisions to limit their exposure to pollution.