The Conservation Law Foundation has followed through on its threat to sue Exxon Mobil Corp. over the pollution hazards posed by the energy giant’s waterfront terminal in Everett.
The heart of the lawsuit filed in Boston federal court: CLF argues that Exxon Mobil has not adequately considered climate change impacts in its plans to curb stormwater pollution and spills for the Everett facility.
The Boston-based nonprofit argues that the company is endangering the public by failing to adequately consider the damage that rising seas or violent storms could do at the terminal, particularly in terms of causing dangerous pollutants to flow off-site. The suit also claims that Exxon Mobil has already repeatedly allowed pollutants to flow into the Island End and Mystic rivers that exceed limits set in the terminal’s federal discharge permit.
The environmental group had originally filed a notice that it planned to take Exxon Mobil to court over the issue in May, a formal step to give the company and environmental regulators time to address the concerns that the group is raising. CLF says no such steps were taken since that time.
The lawsuit comes as the company has become the target for a number of environmentalists and attorneys general. These critics are making the case that Exxon Mobil had inside information verifying the potentially devastating impacts of climate change long before admitting to the problem in public. The CLF lawsuit, for example, cites memos that date back to the 1970s.
Todd Spitler, a spokesman for the Texas company, issued a statement describing the lawsuit as “yet another attempt to use the courts to promote a political agenda.” He said the suit is based on inaccurate claims by activists about the company’s nearly 40-year history of support for climate research.
“To suggest that we had reached definitive conclusions ... while climate science was in an early stage of development is not credible,” Spitler said.
Jon Chesto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.