A shameful court decision in Texas shows why we need to see pollution for what it is: violence, usually against poor and vulnerable people.
The situation is Erin Brockovich stuff. A Citgo refinery bordering Corpus Christi’s poor, largely minority Hillcrest neighborhood was illegally allowing benzene and other pollutants to escape its tanks. A jury found it guilty, not just civilly, but criminally. This unusually severe judgment was the first criminal conviction of a refinery operation under the Clean Air Act. With the support of the Justice Department, the victims sought what victims of ordinary crime expect when possible: restitution from the wrongdoer to make them whole.
U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey decided Wednesday that victims of Citgo’s criminal—literally criminal—pollution will receive no restitution. Citgo won’t have to pay any of the $55 million that the Justice Department had requested.
Rainey also served in the United States Army from 1969 to 1970.
Rainey was a private practice attorney in the State of Texas from 1973 to 1986. Rainey served as the Director of the Angleton, Texas Chamber of Commerce from 1983 to 1987
On the recommendation of Texas U.S. Senator Phil Gramm, Rainey was nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas by President George H.W. Bush on January 24, 1990
In 2007, a jury convicted Citgo of violating the Clean Air Act, a first for a major oil company. The company had illegally stored oil in two uncovered tanks, exposing nearby residents to toxic chemicals including the carcinogen benzene. It took seven years for U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey to sentence the company, finally ruling in February that Citgo owed $2 million—a paltry sum next to the $1 billion prosecutors argued the company had earned from its illegal operation. Still, victims held out hope for some restitution.
On Wednesday, Rainey denied victims any restitution, including funding to pay for annual cancer screenings and other diseases that could be linked to chemical exposures. The Justice Department had requested that Citgo set up a fund to cover relocation costs, and another for victims’ future medical expenses, plus attorney’s fees and administrative costs for a total of $55 million in restitution.
Ironically, Rainey wrote that determining how much victims are really owed would “unduly delay the sentencing process” and “outweighs the need to provide restitution to any victims.”
originally posted by: TrueBrit
The rules are supposed to apply equally to all people and companies. This is nothing to do with whether or not you accept the premise that environmental damage is an unavoidable part of industry, but ONLY to do with the law being correctly applied to all parties equally, which clearly has not happened.
originally posted by: NthOther
You don't think it's relevant to point out that Citgo wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the billions of people buying their products (and, for the most part, loving every minute of it)?
originally posted by: NthOther
If you want all the conveniences and "creature comforts" of industrial civilization, you're going to have pollution. The larger the civilization, the grander the scale of pollution.
That's just how it works. And inevitably there are "accidents". S happens. Play with fire, you get burned.
If you want pollution prosecuted as a violent crime... do we all get lighter sentences for owning up to the role we've played? We're the ones buying all the end products of the processes causing the pollution in the first place.
Anyone got a mirror?