WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced March 26 that XTO Energy Inc., a company based in Houston, will settle allegations of violating the Clean Air Act at the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
“This settlement will reduce harmful air pollutants, benefiting the health of residents of the Fort Berthold Indian reservation, as well as those living in surrounding communities,” said Jeffrey H. Wood, acting assistant attorney general of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “This case further demonstrates the shared commitment of the Justice Department and EPA to enforce the nation’s environmental laws, including in Indian Country.”
According to allegations, XTO improperly handled the vapor control systems on its storage tanks. Because of this, the tanks emitted volatile organic compounds (VOCs), that can cause smog or ground-level ozone. XTO agreed to spend $450,000 to fund an environmental mitigation project, pay $320,000 in civil penalties and ensure the adequacy of its vapor control systems.
“This settlement with XTO Energy will reduce emissions from its production facilities on the Fort Berthold Reservation and will benefit tribal communities and regional air quality,” said EPA regional administrator Doug Benevento in a statement. “EPA will continue to work with energy producers and our state and tribal partners to ensure that oil and natural gas extraction occurs in accordance with the laws that protect our air and water resources.”