The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rebekah Staub, Earthworks,

EPA Greenlights Massive New Oil Export Project on Texas Coast Despite Climate Goals and Environmental Justice Pledges

Agency letters reveal cracks in Biden's climate and environmental justice ambitions


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended the Maritime Administration approve Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT), a massive new offshore oil export terminal. The project would emit more than 300 million tons of greenhouse gasses into the air each year on the Texas Gulf Coast, further harming the health of predominantly low-income communities and communities of color. The Maritime Administration is due to make a final decision on the deepwater port application prior to Nov. 21.

EPA recommended the Biden Administration approve the project license, despite admitting "more emphasis is needed to ensure that environmental justice and climate change considerations are included in the project for the protection of overburdened communities."

Approval would allow Enterprise and Enbridge to build an offshore oil platform, pipelines starting in Harris County through Brazoria county, and a tank farm. This would increase air pollutants that form ozone and smog in communities that have failed to meet EPA air quality standards for more than a decade and is home to some of the highest cancer clusters in the nation.

The recommendation follows a three-year federal review process including a Final Environmental Impact Statement and public input process that resulted in more than 80,000 written comments submitted in opposition of the project. Community members and advocates were astounded at the inconsistencies between EPA's words and actions.

"In one breath the EPA says they approve of the project, and in the next breath they talk about the need to take a closer look at environmental justice communities, which is Brazoria County," said Melanie Oldham, Freeport resident and founder of Citizens for Clean Air and Water in Brazoria. "The only way to ensure environmental justice and protection of these communities that have been overburdened by industry is to deny the license for SPOT and all new fossil fuel projects."

SPOT is one of four deepwater crude export facilities proposed for the Gulf of Mexico which is overburdened by the fossil fuel industry and climate change-induced natural disasters caused by the emissions from fossil fuel production and use. The Department of State and Army Corps of Engineers also submitted letters as part of the interagency review, stating the project that this will have "no adverse impacts."

"This is a signal President Biden is moving us in the wrong direction on addressing environmental injustice and the climate crisis," said Kelsey Crane, Senior Policy Advocate at Earthworks. "You cannot address current and historic environmental injustice if you are advancing new fossil fuel projects that will continue to harm the communities who are forced to live alongside this pollution and have been suffering and dying under industry exploitation."

Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions.

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