Exxon to Spend $300 Million on Plant Pollution Controls, Settle EPA Probe

By Imani MoiseFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Exxon Mobil Corp. said Tuesday it will spend $300 million to improve pollution controls at eight plants in Texas and Louisiana, settling claims that the oil company failed to effectively monitor emissions of chemicals and violated the Clean Air Act.

The company will also pay a total of $2.5 million in civil penalties, a significant decrease from the $20 million fine originally ordered by a federal judge in a lawsuit brought by environmental advocates. Exxon settled the allegations without admitting wrongdoing.

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"We have worked closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address concerns about flaring and opportunities to improve flaring efficiency at our U.S. chemical sites," the company said in an emailed statement.

Federal and state regulators including the U.S. Department of Justice and Louisiana Department of Environmental Equality said that the improved pollution controls will reduce airborne emissions of volatile organic compounds by more than 7,000 tons per year and other toxic pollutants such as benzene by more than 1,500 tons annually. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are known for causing smog, irritating lungs and increasing susceptibility to respiratory illnesses.

In addition to upgrading its pollution controls and paying the penalty, Exxon will spend $1 million to plant trees in Baytown, Texas, to provide a buffer to reduce the impact of pollutants from plants on nearby communities. The company will also foot the bill for a $1.5 million air quality monitoring vehicle for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Shares, which are down 7.4% this year, edged up 0.1% to $83.61 during afternoon trading.

Write to Imani Moise at imani.moise@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 31, 2017 15:53 ET (19:53 GMT)