Quantcast

Texas Oil Companies Want Federal Dollars to Protect Them From Climate Change

Energy
Flooding in Houston's energy corridor following Hurricane Harvey on Sept. 4, 2017. Revolution Messaging / Public domain

The burning of fossil fuels is the driving force behind climate change, and now the companies responsible want the government to help pay to protect them from the consequences.

Texas is seeking at least $12 billion to build a network of seawalls, levees, gates and earthen structures that would protect a stretch of the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the area south of Houston that houses 30 percent of U.S. oil refining capacity, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.


The Army Corps of Engineers approved $3.9 billion for smaller projects that would protect oil facilities in Port Arthur and Freeport in July, The Associated Press and The Houston Chronicle reported.

"The oil and gas industry is getting a free ride," Sierra Club Houston executive committee member Brandt Mannchen told The Associated Press. "You don't hear the industry making a peep about paying for any of this and why should they? There's all this push like, 'Please Senator Cornyn, Please Senator Cruz, we need money for this and that.'"

Texas Republican politicians like Senators John Cormyn and Ted Cruz, who signed a letter urging President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris agreement and are generally hostile to public spending, support federal funding for the project. Many see it as a priority after Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston and took out 25 percent of the area's refining capacity for a time.

"Our overall economy, not only in Texas but in the entire country, is so much at risk from a high storm surge," Gulf Coast-area Republican Judge Matt Sebesta told The Associated Press.

The idea for the "Ike Dike," as the 60-mile network of barriers is called, took off after Hurricane Ike battered Texas in 2008 and caused half-a-million gallons of crude oil to be released into Texas waters, Climate Liability News reported.

Most local environmental groups supported the general need to protect the coast from storm surges, and prevent storm-caused oil spills, but were worried a plan would be rushed through after Harvey that would bypass environmental reviews assessing its potential impact on wildlife and the salinity of Galveston Bay.

"You may prevent the bay from being ruined by a release of petrochemicals, but you may ruin it by changing the hydrology," Galveston Bay Foundation spokesperson Scott Jones told Climate Liability News.

Some of those concerns were mitigated when the federal government approved insufficient funding to fast track the project last year.

In July, the Army Corps of Engineers approved $1.9 million to study the best design for the Ike Dike, and the study draft and environmental impact statement should be released in September, The Houston Chronicle reported.

The limited project that has been approved is the Sabine Pass-to-Galveston Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management and Ecosystem Restoration. The initial funding proposal protected larger parts of the coast, but as the project has been refined it has focused more specifically on refineries, The Associated Press reported.

Part of the project will raise dirt levees and build or expand flood walls around Port Arthur, where refineries owned by Saudi-owned Motiva, Valero Energy Corp. and Total S.A. are located.

"You're looking at a lot of people, a lot of homes, but really a lot of industry," Army Corps of Engineers resident engineer in Port Arthur Steve Sherrill told The Associated Press.

Another part of the project will build 25 miles of new seawalls and levees in Orange County, where facilities belonging to Chevron and DuPont are located. A third will increase and heighten seawalls protecting Freeport, as well as a Phillips 66 export terminal for natural gas and many chemical plants.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

One of the 25 new Long Beach Transit hybrid gasoline-electric buses on April 23, 2009. Jeff Gritchen / Digital First Media / Orange County Register / Getty Images

In Long Beach, California, some electric buses can charge along their route without cords or wires.

When a bus reaches the Pine Avenue station, it parks over a special charging pad. While passengers get on and off, the charger transfers energy to a receiver on the bottom of the bus.

Read More Show Less
Semi trucks travel along I94 on June 21 near Lake forest, Illinois. Scott Olson / Getty Images

The Trump administration pushed through an exemption to clean air rules, effectively freeing heavy polluting, super-cargo trucks from following clean air rules. It rushed the rule without conducting a federally mandated study on how it would impact public health, especially children, said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General Charles J. Sheehan in a report released yesterday, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

A time-restricted eating plan provides a new way to fight obesity and metabolic diseases that affect millions of people worldwide. RossHelen / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Satchin Panda and Pam Taub

People with obesity, high blood sugar, high blood pressure or high cholesterol are often advised to eat less and move more, but our new research suggests there is now another simple tool to fight off these diseases: restricting your eating time to a daily 10-hour window.

Read More Show Less
Kunhui Chih / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Plastic debris washed up on remote islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans has killed hermit crabs, which mistake the plastic for shells, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
A man and his dog walk past an H&M store in Stockholm, Sweden on March 11, 2014. Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

By Ashutosh Pandey

H&M's flagship store at the Sergels Torg square in Stockholm is back in business after a months-long refurbishment. But it's not exactly business as usual here.

Read More Show Less