‘Astonishing’ Texas legal Win tops decades of clean-water heroism
A judge’s pollution finding regarding remote Lavaca Bay, Texas offers a breakthrough advance that can galvanize other Davids everywhere fighting entrenched, toxic Goliaths.
By Robert S. Becker – 1584

NationofChange
July 17, 2019

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Precedents Set: Big $$ Penalty Fueled by Key Citizen Evidence

“Now precedence is set. Add the upcoming good news that huge financial penalties will force Formosa to remedy toxic discharges.  Further, what happened here can galvanize other Davids everywhere fighting entrenched, toxic Goliaths. Mammoth polluters often commandeer remote, under-populated places, delivering needed jobs to desperate counties. They intimidate critics and local media who shrink from criticizing. Despite its ironic name, the state “environmental quality” commission condones lawbreaking that privatizes profits while “socializing” horrendous “externalities.” Translation: pocket the profits, keep officials at bay, and handoff high damage mitigation costs to the public — when and if possible.”

…..Sometimes, unstoppable anti-pollution champions must get their feet wet. Literally, in polluted bays. Long on need yet short on cash for pricey consultants, clean water champions along the Gulf of Mexico’s Lavaca Bay (Texas) refused to accept that industry power and government indifference could openly poison their backyard. A successful court fight to stop Formosa Plastics’ ongoing illegal wastewater discharges of plastic pollution into the Bay and nearby waterways demanded hard, extensive evidence.

So a dedicated band of environmental heroes took 6000 photos and videos as they systematically monitored a 20-mile area, including 13 Formosa outflow dumps. They collected 30 containers of2,428 samples of illegally discharged plastic pellets and powder released by one of the dirtiest plastics makers anywhere. Bingo: grit plus low-tech solutions yield Texas-size breakthroughs.

That data haul convinced US Judge Kenneth Hoyt to make a precedent-setting decision in a state notorious for looking sideways at business law-breakers. He found

1) Formosa for years broke both federal Clean Water Act and Texas environmental laws, labeling the company a “serial offender” guilty of “extensive, historical and repetitive” wastewater contamination;
2) prohibited further toxic discharges;
3) scolded grossly lax Texas environmental enforcement; and
4) framed the remedy/penalty phase, with an explosive maximum of $184 million fine looming for Formosa’s 1,885 (!) violations….

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