HOUSTON—While paying a $14.25 million civil penalty imposed for releasing several thousand tons of contaminants into Texas communities, fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil reportedly threw in an extra couple million Monday as an advance on its next violation of the Clean Air Act. “These court appearances are exhausting for everyone, so why don’t we just give you a lump sum up front and agree that will cover us for the next few months?” CEO Darren Woods said to a U.S. district judge, explaining how the multinational oil and gas company would of course continue to release harmful quantities of pollutants into the air, and that paying ahead of time would reduce paperwork and streamline the accounting process. “We’re very busy people, and we’re sure you are too. There’s no reason we can’t get all these future fines out of the way today. In fact, we’re happy to simply leave you a blank check right now, and you can fill out it out whenever. Consider it a token of trust in our valued partnership.” At press time, reports confirmed ExxonMobil had given federal regulators a second blank check with the phrase “next offshore spill” scrawled on the memo line.