Texas Residents Urge Rejection of World's Largest Plastics Plant: 'Millions of Gallons of Toxic Wastewater a Day' Would Be Dumped Into Corpus Christi Bay
The Center for Biological Diversity and more than 1,100 Texas residents are demanding that Texas regulators reconsider issuing a wastewater permit to a project that would be the world's largest plastics plant.
The facility, funded by ExxonMobil and the Saudi Arabian government, would discharge more than 13 million gallons a day of toxic wastewater. It will exceed legal pollution standards, as the Center for Biological Diversity notes in a petition filed Wednesday with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
The plant, which would receive more than $1 billion in state tax breaks, would "crack" the ethane in natural gas to produce almost 2 million tons of ethylene and polyethylene annually. Polyethylene pellets are the basic building blocks of plastic products. The Texas plant is part of a multibillion-dollar push by the fossil fuel industry to increase global plastic production by 40 percent over the next decade.
"This facility will dump millions of gallons of toxic wastewater a day into beautiful Corpus Christi Bay. That's right in the middle of critical habitat for endangered whooping cranes," said Emily Jeffers, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Texas and its wildlife will pay a heavy price just to produce more cheap plastic that will litter our oceans and landscapes. Texans don't want toxins in their bays and rivers, and they don't want plastics polluting our oceans and seafood."
Wednesday was the deadline for concerned citizens to request the commission reconsider its April 9 decision to issue a wastewater permit for the plastic plant. The Center for Biological Diversity, along with more than 1,148 Texas residents who supported the online petition, submitted a request for reconsideration. In addition to the wastewater permit, the facility must obtain several air permits.
It will also contribute to plastic pollution, which has become so pervasive that plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050. Marine plastic pollution affected at least 267 species, including 86 percent of sea turtle species and 43 percent of marine mammal species. Large whales are often found with bellies full of plastic after they die.
Little bits of plastic get mistaken for food and eaten by fish, sea turtles, birds and other wildlife. These animals often choke on the items, or experience feelings of fullness and then starve to death.
Plastic also attracts and absorbs toxic chemicals from the marine environment, increasing the hazards to any animal that eats them, including those higher on the food chain, including humans. Other animals become entangled in plastic garbage and drown.
The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.
This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.
"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.
By Shana Udvardy
After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.
Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.
Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.