Chevron Phillips agrees to cut pollution at 3 Texas plants

HOUSTON – Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. will pay $118 million for upgrades and compliance measures at three Texas petrochemical plants and pay a $3.4 million civil penalty over allegations that it violated the Clean Air Act, according to a proposed settlement announced Wednesday.

The changes are expected to reduce greenhouse gases by more than 75,000 tons per year, the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency said.

At issue are three plants in Cedar Bayou, Port Arthur and Sweeny, all near the Texas Gulf Coast and its busy petrochemical corridor. Chevron Phillips was accused of failing to properly operate and maintain its industrial flares, causing excess air pollution in the area.

"Chevron Phillips Chemical strives to ensure compliance, especially regarding flaring, and we are fully committed to environmental stewardship," the company said in a statement. “We are pleased to have this matter settled with the EPA and are making additional investments to proactively reduce our environmental footprint as part of our sustainability strategy."

Under the agreement, Chevron Phillips will install pollution control and emissions monitoring equipment at the three plants, said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

“Those controls, plus a requirement for fence line monitoring of benzene emissions and corrective actions when benzene readings are high, will result in significant benefits for the local communities in Texas,” he said.

The pollution controls aim to reduce greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane that contribute to global warming.

The consent decree outlining the settlement is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval.