Oil export facility comment period closes with overwhelming public opposition

More than 44,000 call on the Coast Guard to deny license for SPOT offshore terminal that threatens coastal communities & endangered species

Carrizo Comecrudo Tribal Nation of Texas * Citizens for Clean Air & Water in Brazoria County * Center for Biological Diversity * Earthworks * Food & Water Watch * Sierra Club * Society of Native Nations* Texas Climate Emergency * Turtle Island Restoration Network * Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network

SURFSIDE BEACH, TEXAS — Yesterday at 11:59pm the U.S. Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) public comment period ended for Enterprise’s Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT) proposed offshore Brazoria County, Texas. More than 44,000 people spoke out against SPOT. NOTE: 44,000 exceeds the total number of comments MARAD reports receiving because some comments were submitted in batches and each batch is (at least initially) counted as one.

If built, the project would include the construction of onshore and offshore oil terminals, with two 36” pipelines to deliver up to 2 million barrels per day of crude oil onto Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) for export to global markets. An Occidental executive is on record in 2018 saying ‘every single molecule from here on out has to be exported,’ meaning new export capacity will accelerate oil extraction that would otherwise stay in the ground at a time when the global economy is transitioning to renewables and the world is calling for low carbon energy solutions to address the threats of global climate change.

The opposing comments, submitted as part of the proposal’s Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) review, echo the call of impacted local governments that have also urged for the project’s denial. The Surfside Beach City Council voted unanimously to oppose the project, and Oyster Creek Mayor Justin Miller expressed similar opposition.

SPOT would negatively impact local communities, ecosystems and property values due to a variety of factors including the onshore terminal’s air pollution, the considerable risk of a major oil spill both onshore and in Gulf waters, and threats to the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle — the world’s most critically endangered sea turtle species — which nests on Surfside Beach. The twin pipelines would cut straight through Surfside, threatening local drinking water supplies. Residents have also expressed concerns that the SPOT environmental review hasn’t fully captured its climate change impacts. Even the Texas General Land Office has expressed concern about SPOT’s impacts and environmental review.

SPOT is just one of several recently proposed large-scale oil-and-gas export or petrochemical projects proposed along the Gulf Coast, each with its own time intensive environmental review, overwhelming communities. In November and December three simultaneous public comment periods overlapped for the SPOT, GulfLink, and Bluewater deepwater port crude oil export proposals. But SPOT’s SEIS doesn’t fully address the significant environmental justice impacts of the compounding social and environmental costs of existing and new onshore and offshore fossil fuel infrastructure development. Communities across Texas directly impacted by these proposals have expressed concern that they were not meaningfully engaged during the public hearing process.

Freeport resident Melanie Oldham, Citizens for Clean Air & Water in Brazoria County —
“The proposed SPOT project would add a tremendous amount of risk to our communities along the Texas Gulf Coast – with no benefits. It is so important that tens of thousands of residents and supporters are speaking up to stop this unneeded project. We call on the Biden Administration to choose our health and our climate over Enterprise’s greed, and deny permits to the SPOT project and all similar proposed oil export terminals along the Gulf.”

Surfside Beach resident Donna Robinson —
“It’s encouraging to see more and more support in our efforts to protect Surfside Beach and the broader Gulf Coast and stop the SPOT project. SPOT would harm our air quality, our nesting turtles, our climate, and our way of life here on the Gulf Coast. We are going to continue to vocally oppose SPOT until the project is stopped for good.”

Carrizo Comecrudo Tribal Nation of Texas —
“We as an Native Original People of Texas are terribly upset over the racism that precludes these hearings. The Government agencies continue to believe that these hearings are consent to grant petroleum chemical corporations permission to continue the environmental Genocide and ‘outa sight, out of mind, outta history’ ideals.  Your failure to demand due diligence from fossil fuel corporations is indicative of your own lack of due diligence.  You fail to neglect that the LNG and crude oil are coming from places lie the Permian Basin Deposits, Eagle Ford Shale deposits and Barton Deposits.  All of these fossil fuel deposits have desecrated sacred sites, ancestral burial sites, and village sites of the Esto’k Gna known as the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribal Nation of Texas. The disposal wells that are being dug to receive contaminated water used in fracking, fracking wells, as well containment tanks are being named after Native Original People’s chief’s to promote their racist agenda.  So the product that is being received to the Spot terminal is subject to continuous racist attitude to ongoing genocide of the Native Original People of Texas.  We know where our sacred sites are. We know where ancestors are buried on these sacred lands that you defile with your hearing where you don’t hear very well.  We demand you do better research by doing ur own research and gathering information from independent experts on geological, archeological, historical due diligence.  Don’t hand out permits without better due diligence on your part as well.  The Native Original People of Texas have a history and are experts on the political, fiduciary, and environmental racism that continues to haunt us Esto’k Gna. You, the Coast Guard, actually have an accountability to us as the Native Original of Texas. We decide the destiny of the lands and waters that are our ancestors.”

Center for Biological Diversity’s Oceans Legal Director Kristen Monsell —
“Biden is on the spot to choose between Gulf communities and wildlife or a handful of Big Oil executives,” said. “Weeks after holding the largest fossil fuel lease sale ever in these same waters, Biden needs to turn the tide now and keep his climate promise to the Gulf. That means rejecting SPOT and all mega-polluting fossil fuel export projects.”

Earthworks’ Petrochem Campaigner Anaïs Peterson —
“The Maritime Administration has all the evidence it needs to deny SPOT’s Deepwater Port License, compelling reason to do so, and overwhelming public demand that they do.  Permitting SPOT would effectively declare that the Biden Administration prioritizes the oil and gas industry ahead of the public interest and U.S. climate commitments.”

Food & Water Watch’s National Climate Organizer Laurel Levin —
“This oil terminal would be a disaster for local communities and the climate, and that’s why hundreds of thousands of people are speaking out against it. If President Biden is going to live up to his commitments to climate action and environmental justice, then his administration must reject this project, along with each of the many other similar projects proposed along the gulf coast.”

Sierra Club’s Senior Attorney Devorah Ancel —
“If the US Maritime Administration approves Enterprise’s destructive Sea Port Oil Terminal, it would be against the will of the local community and Indigenous voices – and against ample scientific evidence that proves plainly that SPOT would be disastrous for global climate, the Gulf environment and way of life. Our legal team continues to support Gulf communities as they resist Enterprise’s fossil fuel corporate power and we will do everything we can to ensure that the agencies reject SPOT because it threatens the interests of Gulf communities and the nation as a whole.”

Society of Native Nations —
“The land’s original people have an inherent right to protect the land, air, water, and all life we coexist with here on these lands that are now called Texas. All people are accountable and responsible to our next generation, so suppose we allow the continued buildout of fossil fuel infrastructure for exports. In that case, we are then allowing devastating pollution to continue to harm our oceans, water, air, land, and the health of the people while at the same time fueling climate change. We need to stop the fossil fuel industry and corporations from stealing our children’s future; they should not have to clean up the mess we leave behind because of our inaction today. We are asking for more indigenous and frontline POC community consultation when it comes to deciding what is best or not for their community. So please deny SPOT’s Deepwater Port License until all due diligence is done, protect our children’s future, the land, air, water, and the wildlife, so we can have a healthy, sustainable future to look forward to. Thank You”

Texas Climate Emergency’s Organizer Donna Hoffman —
“If allowed to be built, oil exported by SPOT and burned in other countries would worsen the already spiraling climate crisis. Here at home for people in Brazoria County SPOT pipelines and storage tanks would cause leaks of hazardous toxic chemicals into the drinking water and air that people breathe. We must say No to SPOT to protect the local community and global climate.”

Turtle Island Restoration Network’s Gulf Program Director Joanie Steinhaus —
“Pipeline production from large terminals and loading operations releases harmful volatile organic compounds into the air, reducing the air quality of local communities and aggravating existing health problems. These facilities and pipelines transport millions of barrels of oil a day through sensitive ecosystems and the risk of an oil spill is a matter of when, not if. Increased crude oil infrastructure spells disaster for our climate and the permit for SPOT must be denied.”

Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network’s Executive Director Osprey Orielle Lake —
“The selling off of the Gulf South to oil and petrochemical companies is an atrocity, and we join Indigenous and frontline communities in calling for the Maritime Administration to deny SPOT’s Deepwater Port License, a project that will harm communities, land, air, and water,” said . The science is clear from the IPCC to the IEA: fossil fuel expansion must stop in order to halt further climate chaos. The communities of the Gulf South have made it clear, they are not interested in more fossil fuel projects that prioritize profit over people and planet. We need a just transition now to a clean, renewable energy future.”