West Texas Gas Plant Hit with Legal Action for Over Hundreds of Air Pollution Violations

EIP and Allies File Notice of Intent to Sue Goldsmith Gas Plant Near Odessa

Austin, TX – Four environmental groups filed a notice of intent to sue a West Texas natural gas processing plant for hundreds of air pollution violations over five years that released thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide, threatening the health of people in the Odessa area.

The Environmental Integrity Project, representing Sierra Club, Environment Texas, and Texas Campaign for the Environment, sent the notice to the DCP Operating Company for violations at its Goldsmith Gas Plant in Ector County, Texas, northwest of Odessa.

Under the federal Clean Air Act, plaintiffs must notify defendants, as well as state and federal regulators, 60 days before filing a lawsuit in federal court.

“The Goldsmith Gas Plant has emitted more illegal sulfur pollution in the past few years than almost any plant in Texas.  It is a top contributor to the harmful levels of pollution in the Odessa area,” said Colin Cox, an Attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project.  “The owners, DCP, must stop their illegal and dangerous flaring.”

State records show that the Goldsmith plant has been responsible for hundreds of air pollution violations over the last five years that released 6.5 million pounds of air pollution, including 5.6 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, 324,000 pounds  of carbon monoxide, 282,000 pounds of volatile organic compounds, 266,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and 64,000 pounds of hydrogen sulfide.

Corey Troiani, Senior Director with Texas Campaign for the Environment, said: “Businesses that refuse to operate within the letter of the law have no place in our great state,” said. “This is especially true when the laws that are broken are there to protect our most valuable state resource, our people and their health.”

Catherine Fraser, Clean Air Associate with Environment Texas, said: “This facility consistently ranks as one of the worst polluters of illegal air pollution in Texas.  This plant is emitting pollutants that can exacerbate asthma and harm the respiratory system. The owners, DCP Midstream, need to clean up their act for our air and our health.”

Dr. Neil Carman, Clean Air Program Director for the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club said: “People in the neighboring communities of Odessa, Gardendale, and Ector County have a right to clean air that is being denied to them by dirty plants like the Goldsmith gas processing plant. Residents in the Permian Basin have been complaining for years about the sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide air pollution from illegal flaring.”

Tens of thousands of drilling sites in the Permian Basin extract natural gas that tends to have large amounts of hydrogen sulfide (called “sour gas”) – a hazardous pollutant with a smell of rotten eggs.

The Goldsmith gas processing plant, located at 1600 West Highway 158 in Ector County, and others in the region remove that hydrogen sulfide and other impurities, compress the gas, and send it via pipelines to the Gulf Coast.

According to a 2019 study by the Environmental Integrity Project, about a third of Ector County in recent years has experienced sulfur dioxide air pollution levels in excess of air quality standards – with the Goldsmith plant the second largest single source. Earlier this year, the groups filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, asking the agency to address the ongoing sulfur dioxide problems in the area.

According to EPA, sulfur dioxide can damage the lungs and lead to premature death, in part through the formation of microscopic soot-like particles that can trigger asthma and heart attacks.  Volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides both contribute to smog, which also damages the lungs.  Hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide, in high concentrations, can be deadly.

In addition to sending the notice of intent to sue to the DCP Operating Company, the environmental groups also sent the notice to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which could intervene in the case.

For a copy of the notice, click here. For a detailed list of violations at the Goldsmith plant, click here.

The Environmental Integrity Project is an 18-year-old nonprofit organization, based in Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C., that is dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and strengthening policy to protect public health.

Texas Campaign for the Environment is a grassroots organization that empowers Texans to fight pollution through sustained grassroots organizing campaigns that shift corporate and governmental policy.

Environment Texas is a nonprofit advocate for clean air, clean water and open spaces with more than 35,000 members and supporters in Texas.

The Sierra Club is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring, enjoying, and protecting the wild places of the earth; and to educating and enlisting humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment.

Media contact: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project (443) 510-2574 or tpelton@environmentalintegrity.org