Part of the NELC team at the U.S. Steel plant tour (left to right): attorney Josh Kratka, engineering expert Ranajit Sahu, co-counsel Dave Nicholas, and engineering expert Mike Plunket.


Environment Texas, Port Arthur Community Action Network, Sierra Club v. Valero Energy Corp

Served a notice of intent to sue:
May 22, 2019
Current Status: Last spring, NELC attorneys sent a notice of intent to sue to Valero Energy Corporation’s Port Arthur Refinery for repeated violations of the Clean Air Act. On the 58th day of the 60-day notice period, the state of Texas filed its own lawsuit, using the violations outlined in the NELC notice letter as a roadmap and precluding the citizen plaintiffs from filing suit. NELC attorneys are keeping a close eye on the state enforcement action to ensure Valero is held appropriately accountable.


PennEnvironment, Clean Air Council v. United States Steel Corp

Complaint Filed: April 29, 2019
Current Status: Last spring, NELC attorneys filed a lawsuit against U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works and two related U.S. Steel facilities for violations of the Clean Air Act caused by a massive fire that knocked out key pollution control devices for months. Since then, the parties have exchanged discovery requests, and NELC attorneys are in the midst of reviewing discovery documents. In November, in preparation for court- ordered mediation, representatives of the plaintiff groups, along with NELC attorneys, participated in a site visit of the Clairton Works facility to observe its operations and the location of the fire. Should mediation not prove successful, the information gathered on the site visit will be useful for future motions and for a potential trial.


Environment Michigan, Ecology Center v. Detroit Renewable Power

Served a notice of intent to sue:
Jan. 29, 2019
Current Status: Last winter, NELC attorneys sent a notice of intent to sue to Detroit Renewable Power (DRP), the operator of Michigan’s largest trash incinerator. The DRP incinerator burned nearly 1 million tons of solid waste each year, creating steam to power electricity generation, but also releasing highly dangerous air pollutants, such as benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde, during frequent periods of incomplete combustion. On March 27, in response to NELC’s notice, the company announced that it was permanently shutting down the incinerator—a huge victory for the surrounding communities. Currently, we are negotiating a formal consent decree with DRP to ensure that the facility remains shut down.

ExxonMobil’s refinery and chemical plant complex is the largest manufacturing complex in the country.

Environment Texas, Sierra Club v. ExxonMobil
Complaint Filed: Dec. 13, 2010
Current Status: On Nov. 7, 2018, a three- judge panel of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on ExxonMobil’s appeal of a decision holding it accountable for 16,386 days of violation of the Clean Air Act at its Baytown, Texas, oil refinery and chemical plant complex and imposing a $19.95 million penalty. NELC attorneys are awaiting the Fifth Circuit’s decision on Exxon’s appeal.

Environment Florida, Sierra Club v. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation
Complaint filed: March 9, 2017
Consent Decree: Jan. 16, 2018
Current Status: Two years ago, NELC attorneys filed a suit against one of the world’s largest chicken producers,
ExxonMobil’s refinery and chemical plant complex is the largest manufacturing complex in the country.
Pilgrim’s Pride, alleging that the company committed 1,377 days of Clean Water Act violations by discharging wastewater into the Suwannee River at its northern Florida poultry processing plant. After court-ordered mediation, Pilgrim’s Pride entered into a consent decree, which imposed a $1.43 million civil penalty, of which $1.3 million was allocated to a Sustainable Farming Fund designed to improve soil, groundwater, and surface water quality. The decree also mandated a comprehensive study of the plant’s discharges to the river, leading to upgrades of the plant’s wastewater treatment facilities. NELC attorneys are monitoring the plant’s progress toward the deadlines set forth in the consent decree, and are prepared to enforce the significant stipulated penalties outlined in the agreement for any wastewater violations or failures to implement environmental upgrades.

Environment Texas, Sierra Club v. Pasadena Refining Systems, Inc.
Complaint filed: March 2, 2017
Consent Decree: July 31, 2018
Current Status: In the year since the settlement of our Clean Air Act case against Pasadena Refining System, Inc.
(PRSI), the company has worked to implement the terms of the consent decree negotiated by NELC attorneys. PRSI has significantly reduced its illegal air emissions, from nearly 100,000 pounds per year to just over 8,000 pounds for the first year of the decree, and has paid more than $3 million to start a vehicle emission reduction fund. This fund aims to improve air quality by introducing zero-emission vehicle fleets into Harris County, Texas, and establishing the necessary infrastructure to support them, such as electric charging stations.