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Federal judge says BP violated emissions laws at its Indiana plant

A hearing will take place at a later date to determine possible financial damage.

On Wednesday, a federal judge found that BP had repeatedly violated national soot emission laws.

According to The Chicago Tribune, U.S. District Judge Philip P. Simon’s decision was based largely on the results of nine pollution tests the UK-based oil company provided to the Indiana Department of Management. Testing for 2015-2018 revealed that BP’s Whiting, Indiana facility did not comply with federal emissions laws.

The Tribune notes that eight of the tests showed that BP boilers released large amounts of particles – soot – that were above allowable levels.

Although BP was committed to addressing its soot problem, the company has not taken adequate measures to reduce its emissions.

Two nonprofit groups – the Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project – filed a lawsuit against BP in hopes of convincing the courts to take action.

The lawsuit, according to the Chicago Tribune¸, was only brought after Indian officials refused to take formal action or otherwise punish BP.

“Sierra Club has presented indisputable evidence that BP violated this test requirement,” wrote Judge Simon in his 28-page ruling. “So nothing is required at this stage of the legal dispute.”

Simon also criticized arguments from BP lawyers who claimed the Sierra Club and its members had failed to prove that Whiting’s emissions were actually harmful.

Image via Dor / Wikimedia Commons. (CCA-BY-3.0)

In response, Simon said that BP’s defense was little more than an attempted “final run of obvious violations”.

However, Judge Simon has not yet made a decision as to whether he will allow plaintiffs’ petition for monetary damages.

Even so, Bowden Quinn, the director of the Hoosier chapter of the Sierra Club, said Simon’s decision was a great victory for his organization and the Environmental Integrity Project.

“Today’s ruling stamps BP’s profit-over-people approach and ensures that BP is held responsible for endangering the health and safety of Northwest Indians with their hazardous emissions,” Quinn wrote in a reprinted by NWItimes.com Explanation

Similarly, Sierra Club’s attorney Sanghyun Lee said Simon’s decision reaffirms and affirms corporate accountability.

“Judge Simon’s decision merely reaffirms the rationale that violators can and must be held accountable for their unlawful pollution,” Lee said. “Compliance is just a basic cost of doing business, and regulated companies like BP cannot simply take advantage of years of non-compliance at the expense of the health and well-being of local residents.”

The Chicago Tribune notes that a monetary damage hearing will be held at a later date.

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