Rebekah Staub, Permian-Gulf Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
HOUSTON, Texas — Dozens of Texas frontline leaders rallied today at the Maritime Administration (MARAD) office in Houston, calling for the agency to stop approving new fossil fuel projects. The activists delivered a legal petition signed by 290 organizations calling for MARAD to immediately stop issuing approvals for deepwater ports as contrary to the agency’s own ‘national interest’ standard. They also presented a letter from 184 healthcare professionals citing the deadly health effects of fossil fuel export infrastructure, and calling for the agency to deny all new project applications.
Acting on President Biden’s authority, MARAD Administrator Ann Phillips can reject the application for Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT), an oil export terminal proposed in Brazoria and Harris counties that would export 2 million barrels of domestic crude oil per day for global markets via Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs). MARAD is required to uphold the national interest when considering applications for new projects. Issuing permits to construct and operate new deepwater ports to import or export oil and liquified natural gas (LNG) clearly does not meet that standard.
In addition to fueling the climate crisis, new deepwater ports and their associated infrastructure – including oil and gas terminals and pipelines – harm sensitive ecosystems, coastlines, ocean waters, and pollute frontline communities that have long-been treated as sacrifice zones for the fossil fuel industry.
“Where I live on the coast, we have so much industry, and now they are proposing to build not one but two oil export projects,” said Melanie Oldham, Freeport resident and president of Citizens for Clean Air and Water in Brazoria County, said during the event. “This is not good for our community. It’s not good for the United States. These oil projects are not needed.”
SPOT is one of six pending applications for offshore oil and gas export facilities that would harm the health of residents, increase energy costs, and make climate change worse. The proposed facilities are almost exclusively concentrated along the Louisiana and Texas coast—where refineries and petrochemical plants have been disproportionately located in low income communities, communities of color, and on Indigenous lands for decades.
The same Gulf Coast communities overburdened by the fossil fuel industry are also the increasingly frequent victims of climate change-induced natural disasters, which is caused by the emissions from fossil fuel production and use. The Biden administration’s ongoing disregard for the disproportionate impacts of gas exports have led Gulf Coast residents to increase calls to stop new and expanded gas export terminals.
Earlier today, representatives from grassroots organizations in Africa, Europe and the United States staged a rally at the United Nations climate summit in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt to highlight the disconnect between their country’s climate promises and support new liquid natural gas and crude oil exports and import infrastructure. President Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks at the summit on Friday.