Texas environmental groups have scored a major victory in a six-year legal battle with the world’s largest oil company.

Environment Texas and the Sierra Club sued ExxonMobil in 2010, accusing the Irving-based energy giant of spewing far more pollution into the air from its massive Baytown complex than is allowed by federal and state law.

Four years later, U.S. District Judge David Hittner found that only a tiny fraction of ExxonMobil’s emissions events were bad enough to warrant legal action — and handed down no penalties. The environmental groups appealed the decision to the conservative-leaning U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which is hardly known for championing liberal causes. 

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