Legal Challenge Secures Key Accountability Measures and Air Pollution Reductions at West Texas Gas Plant

Odessa, Texas — A settlement of a lawsuit challenging unpermitted flaring under the Clean Air Act from the James Lake Gas Plant in West Texas has secured penalties and significant pollution reductions for a plant that state and federal regulators have failed to address.

The plant, located about 10 miles northwest of Odessa in the heart of the Permian Basin, processes gas by stripping out the acid gas hydrogen sulfide. But over the last five years, the plant has routinely reported significant levels of sulfur dioxide releases due to excessive acid gas flaring. Sulfur dioxide especially impacts people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

The settlement agreement submitted to the court today is the result of a Clean Air Act lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club, represented by the Environmental Integrity Project. It will require the plant to implement additional pollution controls to reduce flaring, with automatic penalties in place for excessive flaring emissions. It will also require the Defendants, James Lake Midstream, LLC and Canyon Midstream Partners, LLC, to pay a penalty and fund beneficial environmental projects in the areas affected by James Lake’s pollution. “We appreciated how the company stepped up and came up with creative solutions to help us resolve this matter quickly,” said George Hays, a lawyer representing the Sierra Club.

The complaint and notice of lodging consent decree are available here and here

“This settlement represents an important step toward holding the oil and gas industry in Texas accountable and limiting dangerous pollution that threatens nearby communities,” said Neil Carman, Clean Air Program Director for the Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter.

“Flaring in the Permian Basin threatens people’s health,” said Ilan Levin, Environmental Integrity Project attorney. “With this settlement, we’re securing reductions of sulfur dioxide emissions and funding for environmental projects that will benefit the areas impacted by James Lake’s pollution. But this settlement is only a first step because there are many other oil and gas operations illegally flaring pollution throughout the Permian Basin, and we need to hold them accountable.”

The Environmental Integrity Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, that protects public health and the environment by investigating polluters, holding them accountable under the law, and strengthening public policy.

Media contact: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project (443) 510-2574