Four environmental groups and a gas company settle Clean Air Act lawsuit

May 27 – The Environmental Integrity Project, the Sierra Club, Environment Texas, and the Texas Campaign for the Environment reached an agreement with gas plant owner DCP Operating Company after the company agreed to contribute improvements that reduce gas flaring.

The company also agreed to pay $500,000 to help improve local air quality and public health in the Odessa region. Additionally, the company agreed to pay automatic penalties in the future — up to $14,500 per ton of hydrogen sulfide — if emissions exceed certain limits.

The settlement, announced in a consent decree filed Friday in federal court for the Western District of Texas, resolves a March 2021 lawsuit. Environmental groups, represented by Environmental Integrity Project, filed a lawsuit under the ” Citizen Actions” of the Clean Air Act over concerns about flaring at the company’s gas processing plant in Goldsmith, near Odessa.

Colin Cox, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, said, “When it comes to both climate change and environmental justice, the Biden administration has been talking for almost two years. But federal environmental enforcement has dropped more than 50% in the Time is running out for Biden’s EPA to step in. Today’s settlement is an example of what the EPA should lead to reduce greenhouse gases and the toxic pollution in oil and gas fields.

Tens of thousands of oil and gas drilling sites in the Permian Basin extract gas, much of which must be stripped of dangerous hydrogen sulfide before it can be transported to ports and petrochemical plants on the Gulf Coast. The Goldsmith gas processing plant, located about 15 miles northwest of Odessa in Ector County, and other similar plants in the region remove this hydrogen sulfide and other impurities, compress the gas and send it via pipelines to markets, mainly on the Gulf Coast. This lawsuit involved the flaring of acid gas, resulting in the emission of sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide into the air. Prior to this action, the Goldsmith Gas Plant was one of the largest sour gas flare emitters in the state.

Corey Troiani, Senior Director of Campaign Strategy, Texas Campaign for the Environment, said, “Today’s settlement shows that oil and gas companies can reduce air pollution and flaring when they are Our state environmental agencies have dropped the ball on pollution control, which is why we must call on the Biden EPA administration to step up and strengthen grassroots enforcement of all laws our nation’s pollution control. These are the EPA’s best tools for reducing not only toxic and asthmatic pollution, but also greenhouse gas emissions.”

Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas, said, “Our state agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, has turned a blind eye to flaring in the Permian Basin, leaving it up to citizens to enforce environmental laws. . We are grateful to see this case resolved with real benefits for Ector County.”

The proposed consent decree will be reviewed by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice before being formally approved by US District Judge David Counts.

This lawsuit is the second case filed by environmental groups against a large gas plant in Ector County in the past five years. The first lawsuit against the James Lake Gas Plant was also resolved in a settlement that reduced sour gas flaring at the plant and funded the purchase of replacement air filters for every classroom and office. of the Ector County Independent School District.

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