Port Arthur, TX – Alleging over 1.8 million pounds of unauthorized air pollution were released over the past 5 years by Valero’s Port Arthur Refinery, the community group and Lone Star Legal Aid client, Port Arthur Community Action Network (PA-CAN), announced at a press conference today that it intends to sue Valero Energy Corporation and its parent company, Premcor Refining Group, Inc. in federal court for violations of the Clean Air Act by the Port Arthur Refinery.  Teaming up with the environmental groups Environment Texas and Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, PA-CAN submitted a “notice of intent to sue” to Valero on May 22nd in a step which will allow the groups to file a federal suit with the U.S. District Court in Beaumont, Texas within the next 60 days.

Represented by LSLA Environmental Justice attorney Colin Cox along with attorneys from the National Environmental Law Center, PA-CAN plans to file a lawsuit, also known as a citizen suit, according to a provision of federal law that allows private citizens who have been affected by violations of the Clean Air Act to bring enforcement upon violators when state or federal environmental agencies fail to regulate those illegal polluters.  “Valero’s Port Arthur Refinery has a long history of repeated environmental offenses that endanger the health of people who live and work nearby,” said LSLA’s Cox.  “Unfortunately, small fines from TCEQ have done nothing to change that behavior. PA-CAN is bringing this lawsuit to hold Valero accountable for their past violations and to prevent violations in the future.”

According to Valero’s own compliance reports, its Port Arthur Refinery has committed hundreds of violations of the Clean Air Act since May 2014, including over 600 violations of hourly and annual emissions limits, as well as dozens of violations relating to improper operation of the refinery’s large industrial flares. Seriously affecting the health and safety of Port Arthur community members, the refinery spewed over 1.8 million pounds of excess hazardous and carcinogenic air pollutants into Port Arthur’s West Side neighborhood during that timeframe.  “They say they want to be a good neighbor – well it’s time for them to step up to the plate and be one,” said President of PA-CAN John Beard. “Air is Life, and everyone has a right to breathe clean air. Our lives—and our children’s lives—shouldn’t be burdened by Valero’s illegal pollution.”

For more information about PA-CAN’s citizen suit, see Sierra Club’s May 22nd press release here.

Watch a live stream video of the May 22nd press conference here.

View the May 22nd notice of intent to sue here.  https://environmenttexas.org/sites/environment/files/reports/Notice%20Letter%20-%20FINAL%20-%20tables.pdf

Speakers and attendees included:

  • Luke Metzger, Executive Director, Environment Texas
  • Neil Carman, Clean Air Program Director, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter
  • John Beard, Jr., President, Port Arthur Community Action Network,
  • Etta Herbert, Port Arthur Community Action Network
  • Felicia Alexander Branch, Port Arthur Community Action Network
  • Colin Cox, Staff Attorney, Lone Star Legal Aid
  • Amy Dinn, Managing Attorney, Lone Star Legal Aid

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org.