Federal court won’t dismiss environmental lawsuit against Exxon

A federal judge has denied Exxon Mobil Corp.’s request to dismiss a lawsuit by two environmental groups over emissions at the oil giant’s Baytown complex.

Environment Texas and the Sierra Club’s Lone Star chapter say that the company has illegally released more than 10 million pounds of toxic chemicals over the past five years at the complex, which includes two chemical plants and the largest refinery in the nation.

The groups said they filed the suit to enforce the federal Clean Air Act in the absence of government action. They have reached a $5.8 million agreement with Shell.

In its motion to dismiss the case, Exxon Mobil argued that “there is no room for private attorney general action in light of the exhaustive regulatory and enforcement actions” of the state and federal government.

The company faces civil penalties of up to $37,500 per day for each violation of the Clean Air Act alleged in the lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge David Hittner’s ruling Tuesday allows the case to go to trial.