Company responsible for O.C. oil spill gets permission to repair pipeline after federal judge strikes down state laws
The three judges’ ruling on Feb. 1 is a victory for a Texas company and its investors, including one of the three lawyers that successfully brought suit against the state over the 2010 pipeline spill.
But the ruling is not as expansive as it appears at first glance. It specifically requires Texas to comply with federal laws on environmental restoration at the site of the pipeline explosion. It also puts the Texas company under a court-imposed deadline to restore the O.C. oil pipeline’s pipeline, which was damaged in the explosion, while it waits for federal regulators to approve a plan to repair it.
Texas oil producer ExxonMobil has been ordered to start doing repairs to the pipeline within three months, according to the order. However, the company has until Friday, March 29 to file any objections to the court’s ruling, which it can do online.
Also, after the ruling was issued, the Texas attorney general filed a motion asking the court to dissolve its three-judge panel and have another five judges review the case. A hearing was held in Austin on March 6, but the motion to dissolve the panel is pending.
ExxonMobil has said it is doing its part to comply with the order to restore the pipeline and is cooperating with federal regulators, who will review the company’s plan to restore the O.C. oil pipeline.
Meanwhile, federal regulators are continuing to review ExxonMobil’s plan to repair the damaged pipeline, which has been contaminated by petroleum products spilled from the pipeline when it exploded in May 2010. It is still unclear if that will be possible without a redesign of the pipeline. The plan, which will be reviewed by federal regulators, must be approved by the company’s board of directors within five months.
The explosion killed 15 people including firefighters and two oil workers trying to put out the flames