Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) announced at a press conference today that it has served formal notice of a lawsuit against ExxonMobil for its decades-long campaign to discredit climate change and knowingly endanger people and communities. An exposé last September by InsideClimate News revealed that ExxonMobil has engaged in a deliberate cover-up of sound climate science for more than thirty years, prompting CLF to launch its own investigation. CLF’s work revealed that the corporation’s deceit spilled onto New England soil and is subjecting local communities to undisclosed and potentially catastrophic risks in violation of both the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
“ExxonMobil’s strategy of publicly denying the very risks its scientists have known for decades has direct impact on Greater Boston communities,” said CLF President Brad Campbell. “ExxonMobil knowingly and unlawfully misled regulators about whether its Everett facility can withstand rising seas, more intense precipitation, and other climate impacts without spewing oil and other toxic pollutants into adjoining neighborhoods, the Mystic River, and the Boston Harbor. Today’s lawsuit – the first of its kind – aims to hold ExxonMobil accountable for decades of dishonesty and require that the Everett facility meet the legal standards for climate-readiness.”
At today’s press conference on the shores of the Mystic River, Campbell stood with numerous local leaders and activists in declaring that ExxonMobil’s irresponsible and illegal actions would no longer be allowed to go unanswered.
Roseann Bongiovanni, Chelsea Green Space environmental justice advocate, commented, “I’ve lived in Chelsea my entire life, and for all that time there’s been imbalance between community members who desperately want waterfront access and the industries that dominate the water’s edge. A decade ago, ExxonMobil spilled thousands of gallons of oil into our river and denied its wrongdoing for months until confronted and forced to pay by the Department of Justice. Today, we have a greater understanding of the full extent of ExxonMobil’s climate denial and we have another opportunity to show the world that we won’t stand for it.”
In March of this year, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general seeking to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for campaigns to deceive customers, shareholders, and the public about climate risk. While CLF is the first organization officially to begin a civil lawsuit against ExxonMobil for this deceit, many other legal actions are likely to follow.
EkOngKar Singh (EK) Khalsa, President of the Mystic River Watershed Association, added, “The Mystic is one of our state’s great treasures, where hundreds of thousands of fish spawn, wildlife seek refuge and eagles fly overhead. Unfortunately, we continuously battle against a history of industrial contamination. It is time for ExxonMobil to step up to the plate and take responsibility for the ongoing harm it is causing our river and our community.”
CLF’s trial team for the case will include nationally renowned attorney Allan Kanner of the Louisiana-based Kanner & Whitely, whose firm has represented states and other plaintiffs in landmark cases against major oil companies, including claims arising from BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill.
Campbell added, “A generation ago, the nation was appalled by the indifference to public safety and the environment that resulted in a drunk ship captain grounding the Exxon Valdez on Alaska’s Bligh Reef, spilling millions of gallons of crude oil into the Prince William Sound. Today in Everett, we must hold ExxonMobil accountable once again for its indifference to the public in the face of potential catastrophe.”
An interview with Roseann Bongiovanni, Chelsea Green Space environmental justice advocate, about a previous oil spill by ExxonMobil in the Mystic, the corporation’s denial of any wrongdoing, and the enormous cost to the Chelsea community and economy.
Another interview with Roseann Bongiovanni speaking about the respiratory problems and other serious health issues caused by air quality levels that far exceed the EPA’s standards for safety.
An interview with EkOngKar Singh (EK) Khalsa, President of the Mystic River Watershed Association, talking about the importance of the Mystic River to the local communities and the neighborhood impacts from continued pollution.
This video from 2007 shows polluted water flowing from a large pipe into the Island End River after a rain event. ExxonMobil discharges polluted water through this pipe every day of the year— up to 280 gallons per minute during dry weather and much more during rain events. The pollutants ExxonMobil is discharging are extremely hazardous, and ExxonMobil’s discharges often grossly exceed the waste limits set out in its discharge permit. The Island End River is water quality impaired, as is the Mystic River into which it flows, and ExxonMobil is contributing to those impairments by discharging toxic pollutants on a daily basis.