The Texas Tribune has published an article describing a remarkable settlement in San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper and S. Diane Wilson v. Formosa Plastics Corp, a suit claiming environmental damages for Formosa’s plastics pollution discharges into Lavaca Bay. The judge in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Kenneth Hoyt, approved a $50 million settlement – the largest ever for a citizen’s suit against an industrial polluter under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
Formosa argued that the $121,875 fine imposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality made the suit moot. In an earlier ruling, Judge Hoyt disagreed, calling the company a “serial offender” and saying that “the TCEQ’s findings and assessment merely shows the difficulty or inability of the TCEQ to bring Formosa into compliance with its permit restrictions.” I cited this case in an earlier post about the inadequacy of Texas agencies’ enforcement of environmental laws and the complexities of administrative enforcement actions.
Diane Wilson, a retired shrimper and environmental activist, was represented by Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and others. Congratulations to Ms. Wilson.
The settlement money will go into a fund for programs supporting pollution mitigation, habitat restoration, public education and other environmental efforts on the middle Texas Gulf Coast
Texas Tribune article is a great read.