Tennessee Files $18M Suit Against Chevron Over Oil Spill Cleanup Funds

January 3, 2016

The Tennessee attorney general is accusing Chevron of fraudulently siphoning more than $18 million over a period of about 30 years from a cleanup fund that people contribute to every time they fill up at the pump.

The lawsuit filed in Davidson County Chancery Court said Chevron and its subsidiaries, including Texaco, used taxpayer funds to pay for leaks and spills at more than 100 Tennessee gas stations, despite having private insurance that paid for the cleanup costs, The Tennessean reports.

Money from the tax – four-tenths of a cent per gallon – is intended as a last-resort fund for owners who cannot afford spill cleanup costs.

In its applications for cleanup costs, the company “misled” the state and continued to “misrepresent the insurance status of the facilities,” the lawsuit said.

The company is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit, saying in some instances Chevron sought state funds to make up the difference in their costs after receiving insurance payouts.

The fund has paid out more than $370 million to hundreds of tank owners across the state since it was created in 1988 by state lawmakers.

The gas tax generated $18 million in the last fiscal year, according to the state’s Department of Underground Storage Tanks.

A court date on Chevron’s move to dismiss the lawsuit and to seek a protective order limiting the amount of document requests the state can make has not yet been set.

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