Lack of Proper Emission Control Devices Warrants Criminal Fines But Not Restitution


In 2007, CITGO Petroleum Corporation and CITGO Refining and Chemicals Company, L.P. (collectively CITGO) were convicted by a jury of two felony violations of the Clean Air Act for operating an oil water separator without the proper emission control devices, and of three misdemeanor counts of violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, all regarding its operations of its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. CITGO was assessed a fine of $2,045,000 for these violations on February 5, 2014, and considerable time and effort has been expended in determining whether CITGO should face additional financial exposure under the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act.

On April 30, 2014, Judge Rainey issued his decision resolving these issues and denied pending requests for $30 million in restitution for local citizens, the entry of a medical monitoring order, future medical expenses and attorneys’ fees. The Government’s request for $25 million in restitution and other remedial orders was also denied. This decision has generated considerable controversy, and an appeal is likely to be made to the Fifth Circuit. Judge Rainey’s opinion is a very thorough review of the Crime Victims’ Rights act, the Mandatory Victim’s Restitution Act and the Victim and Witness Protection Act, and the evidentiary difficulties faced by anyone who seeks relocation expenses as well as attorneys’ fees primarily generated by pro bono counsel.

If you have any questions about the content of this blog, please contact the Pillsbury attorney with whom you regularly work or Anthony Cavender, the author of this blog.

Additional Resources: Department of Justice, Citgo Sentenced to Pay More Than $2 Million for Environmental Crimes at Corpus Christi, Texas, Refinery (Feb. 5, 2014)