The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Lorne Stockman,,
Cate Bonacini,,
Alan Septoff,

New Report: Permian fracking boom will bust the climate and intensify environmental injustice

A new multi-media report shows, for the first time, the Permian Basin’s huge global climate impact and environmental justice threat to communities from New Mexico to the Gulf Coast.

EL PASO, Texas

Oil Change International, Earthworks, and the Center for International Environmental Law are releasing a new multi-media report series entitled The Permian Basin Climate Bomb. The six-part series analyzes the climate, public health, economic, and social impacts of the Permian fracking boom. It follows the flow of Permian hydrocarbons from extraction to export, illustrating the community consequences of the associated infrastructure buildout by spotlighting individuals confronting the fossil fuel industry. In doing so, this series links the Permian Basin to environmental injustice and petrochemical expansion on the Gulf Coast.

Read the first installment of the Permian Climate Bomb series:

Parts 2-6 of the series will be released over the coming weeks.

Part 1 of this new series reveals that oil production in the Permian Basin has grown more than 5x in the past decade, and despite the climate crisis, is still expected to grow aggressively in the coming decade. At a time when the world's leading scientists agree that "rapid, transformative, and sustained action is needed to ensure that global warming does not exceed 1.5degC temperature levels," continued oil and gas production growth in the Permian Basin poses a substantial threat to President Biden's climate agenda.

Additionally, the Permian Basin is responsible for fueling an explosion in plastic processing and manufacturing along the Gulf Coast. Communities already burdened with toxic chemical plants are witnessing expansions of new and existing plants, raising their cumulative toxic burden higher than ever before. This plastics production boom ignores the outcry of communities and governments worldwide over the plastic pollution crisis, threatening the survival of countless species, and causing immeasurable harm to public health and ecosystems worldwide.

While oil and gas production, exports, and plastics all pose unique threats to frontline communities, decades of enforcement failure and insufficient environmental standards have enabled Permian oil and gas operations to become some of the dirtiest in the world. The intensity of drilling, water, sand, chemical use, and the lack of regulatory oversight has turned parts of the basin into an industrial wasteland. Combined, these threats have decreased the quality of life for residents, threatened local agriculture, ranching, tourism, and recreation, and relegated the basic health and safety of residents to an afterthought to the industry's relentless pursuit of growth.


"The Permian Basin has, for the past decade, been the site of an oil and gas boom of unprecedented scale. Producers have free rein to pollute and methane is routinely released in vast quantities. Oil exports fuel Permian production growth and today they constitute around 30% of US oil production. While climate science tells us that we must consume 40% less oil in 2030, Permian producers plan to grow production more than 50%. This must not happen. Gulf Coast communities can no longer bear the brunt of this toxic trade or its climate impacts. Building back better means building back fossil free--starting with the Permian Basin." --Lorne Stockman, Research Co-Director, Oil Change International

"Unless President Biden defuses the Permian climate bomb exploding in my backyard, we won't prevent catastrophic climate change or meet our national climate commitments. A 'code red' demands emergency action, not business as usual. The President can show he's serious about climate by declaring a climate emergency, reinstating the crude export ban, enacting the toughest possible rules to cut oil and gas methane pollution, and laying the political groundwork to end new oil and gas production." --Miguel Escoto, Earthworks West Texas Field Advocate and El Paso resident.

"If the Biden Administration wants to be serious about its promise to demonstrate US climate leadership, it must first clean up its own backyard. The Permian Basin is the single largest fracking basin globally, and the continued reckless pursuit of oil extraction from New Mexico to the Gulf Coast is the ultimate display of hypocrisy. As long as wells are pumping, the United States enables a worsening climate emergency, endangers the health and safety of communities, and contributes to the destruction of ecosystems. The Administration must use all of the tools at its disposal to prevent the next decade in the Permian from being a repeat of the last. At a minimum, that means rejecting permits for new export facilities, petrochemical plants, and other fossil fuel infrastructure." -- Steven Feit, Senior Attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law

"The Permian climate bomb starts with oil and gas wells spewing toxics, including the ones across the street that forced us from our home. Cleaning up the Permian won't just help the climate, it'll protect the health of people that live here." -- Fort Davis, Texas resident Sue Franklin

"Gas from the Permian fuels the industrial beast of pollution in the Gulf coast, especially in Port Arthur, TX, my home. The facilities using this gas include the largest refinery in the country; the world's largest steam cracker, and the explosive expansions in refining, LNG, pipelines, and export facilities. This 'boom' has contributed to environmental degradation, significant loss of quality of life, nonattainment air quality, water-borne pollution, and diminished health for my fenceline community. Fracked Permian gas contributes to our significantly higher risk of cancer, heart lung and kidney disease. And then, the storms; give major hurricanes in the last 25 years! Catastrophic flooding and unseasonal weather events, all compounded by the greenhouse gases of the Permian. Port Arthur, and the entire Gulf Coast, has become a sacrifice zone, so America can feed it's thirst for toxic fossil fuels. We can no longer afford to be the unwitting victim of this exploitation from the use of fracked Permian gas; it needs to end, NOW! and utilize clean, green renewable sources of energy in its stead. We say, 'Keep it in the Ground'" -- John Beard, Port Arthur Community Action Network (PACAN)

Read the first installment of the Permian Climate Bomb series:

Oil Change International is a research, communications, and advocacy organization focused on exposing the true costs of fossil fuels and facilitating the ongoing transition to clean energy.

(202) 518-9029