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Corpus Christi, Texas – The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) have put the proposed Corpus-area Bluewater Texas offshore crude oil export terminal in “time out.”

With regulatory authority over offshore terminals in the Gulf of Mexico, MARAD, an agency of the Department of Transportation, and the USCG have issued a Stop Clock letter to Phillips 66, a partner in the plan to build a massive new deepwater terminal capable of loading over a million barrels of crude oil per day onto ‘supertanker’ carrier ships. The letter pauses the federal review process while regulators seek additional information about the project’s possible impacts on the environment and climate, among other issues.

Bluewater Texas is the focus of intense opposition from Coastal Bend residents alarmed by the project’s draft air pollution permit, which would make it the largest single emitter of harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and benzine in the United States. The project would be located just 17 miles off the coast of San Patricio County.

Bluewater Texas recently landed Trafigura, Phillips 66’s partner in the proposed project, on the “Terrible 12” list of Texas polluters, and Coastal Bend residents have organized to call on U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to stop the project altogether. In addition to air pollution and the risk that Bluewater oil spills could irreversibly damage coastal waters and communities, the project’s pipelines would cross Redfish Bay, threatening large seagrass beds that act as a natural carbon sink and also provide critical habitat to aquatic life.

“Bluewater Texas and similar projects demand more scrutiny, both from regulators and from those who would be directly impacted,” said Elida Castillo of Chispa Texas. “Contrary to their promises to create jobs and support our community, it was clear from the beginning that Bluewater would not be a good neighbor. Air pollution, the risks of oil spills, and the threat to endangered wildlife are not worth the 14 permanent jobs and other supposed benefits.”

“MARAD and the USCG are doing the right thing in slowing down the Bluewater permitting process,” said Encarnacion Serna, chemical engineer and Portland resident. “Hundreds of Coastal Bend residents have already voiced concerns to federal regulators during this review process, and I think we are finally being listened to. We will keep speaking out to make sure that Phillips 66 and Trafigura are not allowed to put the health and safety of our communities at risk.”

“The fact that MARAD and USCG have issued this stop-clock proves that grassroots resistance to fossil fuel projects is growing,” said Love Sanchez of Indigenous Peoples of the Coastal Bend and Karankawa Kadla Tribe of Gulf Coast. “In the past, companies like Phillips 66 and Trafigura could push these things through quickly and with little push-back from permitting agencies, but activists and organizers on the ground are changing this. We will keep protecting our ancestral lands and the health of our community and keep pushing for a transition away from destructive, extractive practices.”

Rebekah Staub, Permian-Gulf Communications Manager, rstaub@earthworks.org

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