In 2021, an environmental group sued a Texas oil company, Tararacay, over Tararacay’s environmentally-unfriendly practices. The suit was filed by the Southern Environmental Association (SDA) on behalf of a local group of citizens in the Rio Grande Valley. This is an interesting tale of Texas energy lawsuit history that may well prove helpful should such a scenario to occur in the near future.
As you may be aware, Tararacay, the former oil giant, settled out of court with some local residents over allegations of irresponsible damming and dumping practices. Because Tararacay settled out of court any future commercial customers who wished to sue for the same reasons from the past would need to bring their lawsuit into the courts through a long expensive legal battle. Tararacay never expected that it would be required to compensate anyone who suffered harm as a result of its damming and dumping practices. It was only when the local residents complained to state officials that the corporation became liable for injuries. And now the corporation must pay past due compensation to its injured customers.
According to the complaint, filed by the SDA, it is apparent that Tararacay repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act by discharging polluted stormwater runoff without first having it put under control by a properly-designed holding tank. According to the complaint, the violations were caused by “faulty operations and lack of engineering controls,” which caused the discharged pollutants to pollute areas downstream from the spill site. The lawsuits further claim that Tararacay was well aware that the water was polluted, yet chose to dispose of it in a manner that endangered both the environment and its groundwater supply. In fact, according to the lawsuits, the company didn’t build any “safe storage tanks” to house the wastewater prior to the discharge of its stormwater. Furthermore, the lawsuits claim that Tararacay did not have the financial resources to properly treat the wastewater which ended up flowing down its river into its underground aquifers, which ultimately contaminated the surrounding areas with dangerous carcinogens.
Tararacay is the defendant in four lawsuits filed against the commercial customers of Tararacay Energy, Inc. and the electric company. Two of the lawsuits were filed by plaintiffs in Greene County, North Carolina, where Tararacay is located, while the fourth lawsuit was filed by a resident of Wilson County, North Carolina. The claims in these lawsuits range from negligence, intentional misconduct, and environmental harm. All of the plaintiffs who have brought suit against the electric company and the Tararacay Energy Corporation are seeking financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other medical care costs.
The Tararacay Energy Corporation is also being sued for violating several North Carolina statutes. Among the statutes that were violated in court cases is one that makes it difficult for customers to cancel a fixed electric rate contract once it becomes legally insufficient. The Tararacay Energy lawsuit says that the law was passed in response to an imbalance of demand and supply of electricity, which placed North Carolina’s electric distribution companies at an unfair advantage over other companies that do not place such caps on their contracts. Additionally, the Tararacay Energy Corporation says that the caps prevent them from investing in certain projects, such as the development of a nuclear power station.
The Tararacay Energy lawsuit says that if the Tararacay Energy Corporation is allowed to continue their illegal activities, they will be at a severe disadvantage in the marketplace due to having less customers and suppliers available to them. Additionally, the Tararacay Energy Corporation claims that the fixed electric rate contract is necessary because coal and nuclear plants cannot provide as much power as the electrical generation companies such as Tararacay and Duke. Because of this, the company says that it cannot guarantee that its own plants will be able to keep up with demands. If, in turn, the companies cannot keep up with demands coming from the electrical generation companies, then the government must step in and make sure that enough power is generated to support the needs of the citizens of North Carolina.