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Media Contact:

Rebekah Staub, Earthworks, rstaub@earthworks.org

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration gave formal approval Monday for a huge oil export project in Texas known as Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT), despite widespread opposition because of its impacts to public health and safety, the climate, and the environment.

For the past four years, advocates led by Better Brazoria have protested the facility as contrary to national interests and have raised concerns to decision-makers about SPOT’s threats to public health and environmental quality and its unquestionable contributions to climate change.

The following statements are from residents in Brazoria County and environmental organizations:

“Those of us residents, beachgoers, and voters that have for the past four years opposed the SPOT offshore terminal and pipelines are very disappointed with the approval of the project license,” said Melanie Oldham, Director of Better Brazoria. “President Biden has again broken promises to protect frontline communities in Surfside and Freeport. We know that if SPOT is built it will be an oil spill waiting to happen that would not only lower property value, but harm our local ecosystems, ecotourism, beaches, recreation, and kill marine life like the endangered Rice’s whale and Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. Why has the Biden Administration again ignored our legitimate concerns? This SPOT Project is not in the public or national interest.”

“This decision has put hundreds of beach communities along the Texas coast at risk of an oil blowout from the two huge high-pressure pipelines carrying two million barrels of crude a day offshore,” said Dr. Gary Witt, a resident of Surfside. “The Deepwater Horizon disaster is on everyone’s mind. We all wonder, ‘Are we next?’”

“Some of the most endangered marine life, as well as human life, that depend on our government for protection are now at even more risk because of this decision,” said Joanie Steinhaus, Ocean Program Director for Turtle Island Restoration Network. “SPOT would inundate the community of Brazoria County and its surrounding ecosystem with oil infrastructure we already know causes detrimental impacts because we are living it.”

“We continue to struggle to see why Biden and Buttigieg prefer to protect the corporate profits of billion-dollar oil giants like Enbridge and Enterprise over the hardcore objections of the people who would have to live with the consequences of pipelines criss-crossing our beaches and a huge deepwater disaster waiting to happen just a few miles from our shore,” said Trevor Carroll, Brazoria County Lead Organizer with Texas Campaign for the Environment. “If you care about environmental justice and the climate, you just can’t support a monstrosity like SPOT. The local community and the global climate justice movement are continuing to fight…this is not over.”

“We are disappointed that the Administration rushed to issue a final license to SPOT, with so many unknowns about the project’s ability to comply with federal regulations that help safeguard against environmental and public health disasters,” said Devorah Ancel, a senior attorney at the Sierra Club, one of several organizations that has fought the terminal for over four years. “The evidence is clear that SPOT would be catastrophic to the climate, wildlife, and frontline communities of the Gulf. The project would emit greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to operating 90 new coal-fired power plants and would lock in fossil fuel dependence for decades to come. It threatens the future existence of the endangered Rice’s whale with a population of less than fifty, and its ozone pollution would compromise the health of thousands of Gulf residents who have endured decades of fossil fuel industry pollution. Make no mistake, SPOT is not in the national interest.” 

“We are disappointed in this decision to greenlight unprecedented oil exports that are clearly not in the public interest,” said Erin Gaines, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice. “Earthjustice and our partners will continue the fight against dangerous oil export projects that threaten communities and the climate.”

“Nothing about this project is in alignment with Biden’s climate and environmental justice goals,”  said Kelsey Crane, Senior Policy Advocate at Earthworks. “The communities that will be impacted by SPOT have once again been ignored and will be forced to live with the threat of more oil spills, explosions, and pollution. The best way to protect the public and the climate from the harms of oil is to keep it in the ground.” 

“The Biden administration must stop flip-flopping on fossil fuels,” said Cassidy DiPaola, Communications Director for Fossil Free Media. “Approving the Sea Port Oil Terminal is not just bad news for our climate, it’s incoherent politics. The administration can’t claim to be a climate leader one day and then turn around and grant a massive handout to the industry the next. President Biden needs to listen to the overwhelming majority of voters who want to see a shift away from fossil fuels. If the administration wants to salvage its credibility on climate, it needs to stand up to the fossil fuel industry once and for all. That means actually stopping the approval of new oil and LNG export facilities, limiting natural gas exports, and ending the era of unnecessary fossil fuel expansion. Anything less is a betrayal of frontline communities and a death sentence for our climate.”

“This Biden Administration’s latest approval of yet another fossil fuel export project is an abject breakdown of climate leadership – but the fight is not over,” said Drew Hudson, founder of 198 methods. “It is still not too late, and none too early, for the Biden Administration to wake up to the self-evident truth that you can’t fix climate change by building more renewable energy at the same time as building and exporting more fossil fuels than ever in American history. Biden can begin to right the ship of climate leadership by declaring a climate emergency and reinstating the ban on crude oil exports.”

“Continuing to permit and construct new fossil fuel infrastructure like SPOT in the midst of a ‘red alert’ climate emergency is deeply immoral and will lead to untold suffering,” said Aly Tharp, Senior Organizer at GreenFaith. “We are deeply disappointed in the Biden Administration and expect to see much stronger climate leadership to phase out fossil fuels on the timeline that science and justice demand.” 

“The Biden Administration’s decision to approve the Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT) is a grave mistake. This approval will only harm local communities and ecosystems, and lead to even more devastating impacts of the climate crisis,” said Allie Rosenbluth, US Manager at Oil Change International. “The International Energy Agency has made it clear that all new investments in oil and gas projects must stop if the world is going to reach its climate goals. The U.S. is already the largest producer of oil and gas and has the largest expansion plans globally. Instead of continuing this legacy of harm by approving fossil fuel projects, President Biden should be listening to the science and the masses of his constituents calling for an end to fossil fuels.”