Madrid, Dec 4 — Today at an official COP25 side event Texas and New Mexico residents — impacted by the extraction of Permian Basin oil & gas, and by planned infrastructure to transport, process and export it — informed delegates and other attendees that catastrophic climate change is inevitable unless the Permian infrastructure expansion is stopped.
“The Permian Basin is an oil and gas carbon bomb that’s exploding, and it’s happening right now. If we can’t defuse it, the world cannot avoid catastrophic climate change. Major oil companies are trying to lock in decades more oil and gas demand by building infrastructure from the Permian to the Texas Gulf Coast to transport, process and export the world’s largest current oil & gas play,” said Earthworks’ Energy Campaigner Ethan Buckner.
Between 2018 and 2050, production of new U.S. oil and gas reserves could unlock 120 billion metric tons of new carbon pollution. Meanwhile the U.S. — thanks to Permian production — just marked its first month as a net exporter since records have been kept. If production and expansion are not curtailed, U.S. oil and gas expansion will impede the rest of the world’s ability to manage a climate-safe, equitable phase out of oil and gas production.
Although communities across the region are bearing the brunt of impacts from oil, gas and petrochemical development, those most at risk from the Permian expansion are those already the most impacted by social and environmental injustice. And on Texas’ Gulf Coast — where the oil & gas is processed and exported — they’re suffering twice: from the operations’ toxic pollution, and from intensified climate change.
“I live less than two miles from the Ship Channel in the East End of Houston, TX. My dad was a United Steelworker who died of cancer in 2016, and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that same year. So I’m well aware that workers and fenceline communities are paying with their health the price of daily exposure to toxic pollution from oil and gas infrastructure,” said Ana Parras, Co-Executive Director Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services.
“America’s national leadership has failed by placing short term gain over global sustainability and ecological responsibility. I am deeply concerned that the wild abandon and insane profits of the oil patch in Carlsbad have exacerbated the divide between rich and poor, creating serious economic injustices,” said Reverend David Rogers, First Christian Church Disciples of Christ, Carlsbad, NM
Scientific study and optical gas imaging videos demonstrate that the worst recorded oil and gas methane pollution is in the Permian Basin of Texas & New Mexico. Because methane is 86 times more powerful a climate pollutant than carbon dioxide, and because it only stays in the atmosphere for 12 years while carbon dioxide remains for as long as 200 years, eliminating methane pollution is among the quickest, if not the quickest, way to mitigate future climate change impacts.
“I travel the Permian Basin with an optical gas imaging camera that makes visible the normally invisible methane pollution the oil & gas industry often claims doesn’t exist. If you could see what I see, there might not be a fracking boom. Seeing is believing,” said Earthworks Field Advocate Nathalie Eddy.