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FOE Lawsuit Results in 1,650 Acres of Wetland

Posted Oct. 29, 2008 / Posted by: admin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Nick Berning, 202-222-0748

Oil company violated federal water pollution law 62 times, comes to agreement to end 13-year lawsuit with contribution of land to National Park Service.

BEAUMONT, TEX.--A federal judge signed off last night on a commitment by the Chevron Phillips Chemical Company to end a 13-year water pollution lawsuit by funding the addition of 1,650 acres of wetlands to the Big Thicket National Preserve in eastern Texas. The suit was brought by the environmental group Friends of the Earth in 1994 in response to Chevron's pollution of the Sabine Lake watershed, which violated the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

"It may have taken 13 years, but justice has finally prevailed," said Friends of the Earth Executive Director Norman Dean. "Chevron broke the law by polluting Texas waters, and now it has been held accountable. This means the addition of more than 1,650 acres of wetlands to the Big Thicket Preserve and new safeguards from Chevron to ensure that such contamination doesn't happen again. The result will be cleaner water for Texans and the conservation of wetlands that all Americans can enjoy."

Big Thicket National Preserve is owned and managed by the National Park Service. Chevron will provide money for the 1,650 adjacent acres of wetland to be purchased by The Conservation Fund, which will then transfer the land to the National Park Service as part of an expansion of Big Thicket. Pictures of the land to be protected are available here, here and here.

"This fabulous cypress swamp will now be protected forever and available for the public to enjoy. We were pleased to be able to assist in the positive resolution of this settlement, which allowed this acquisition to occur," said Julie Shackelford, Programs Director for The Conservation Fund.

"The Conservation Fund has played a vital role in protecting this land for generations to come, and we want to thank them for their partnership," Dean said. "Without them, the outcome of this lawsuit wouldn't have been possible."

Prior to its coming to an agreement with Friends of the Earth, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas found that Chevron had violated discharge limitations set forth in a permit it had been issued through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Specifically, Chevron was found to have inadequate treatment facilities that caused excessive discharges of total suspended solids (TSS) in its wastewater.

Friends of the Earth was represented in the case by the law firm of Terris, Pravlik & Millian, based in Washington, D.C. District Judge Richard A. Schell's signing of the consent decree agreement between Chevron and Friends of the Earth yesterday afternoon ends the lawsuit.

A copy of the consent degree is available here: http://www.FOE.org/Big_Thicket/FOE_v_Chevron__Big-Thicket.pdf

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