Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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

A protest against the name of the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 2, 2014. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
The survival tools northern fish have used for millennia could be a disadvantage as environmental conditions warm and more fast-paced species move in. Istvan Banyai / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma

Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.

Read More Show Less
A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARLOS FABAL / AFP via Getty Images

NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less
A baby receives limited treatment at a hospital in Yemen on June 27, 2020. Mohammed Hamoud / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The 2006 oil spill was the largest incident in Philippine history and damaged 1,600 acres of mangrove forests. Shubert Ciencia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jun N. Aguirre

An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.

Read More Show Less