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    Murphy Oil Penalized

    Oil company agrees to pay $12 million to cut emissions.

    MADISON, Wis. -- Murphy Oil USA Corp. will spend more than $12 million to cut sulfur emissions at its Superior refinery and pay $5.5 million in civil penalties under an agreement approved by a federal judge.

    U.S. District Court in Madison, Wis. approved the deal worked out by the company and federal officials in January. A judge ruled last year that the company violated federal anti-pollution laws and intentionally withheld information from environmental officials, according to the Associated Press.

    Under the agreement, Murphy Oil will be required to emit only 20 tons of sulfur dioxide a year by March 2003 from a unit at the refinery compared with the 777 tons it currently releases. The agreement lets El Dorado, Ark.-based Murphy Oil to continue releasing sulfur dioxide at current levels until the new process to reduce emissions is running by a Jan. 1, 2003, deadline.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Herje said state and federal environmental officials will monitor Murphy Oil "very closely" to make sure it complies with the terms. Herje said the company has begun work to comply with the required reductions.

    The federal government first filed its lawsuit in 2000, accusing Murphy Oil of emitting more than 20 times the allowable level of sulfur dioxide for the last decade. Wisconsin had tried several times to file suits against the company that were similar to the federal action but was rebuffed each time. The state will receive $750,000 of the $5.5 million in penalties.

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