Rebekah Staub, Permian-Gulf Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON — Earthjustice, together with Earthworks and 38 other organizations, submitted a letter to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and U.S. Coast Guard today, urging the agencies to deny GulfLink, a new oil export project proposed on the Texas Coast.
More than 5,000 local community members and climate advocates also argued that approving the GulfLink project now would lock in decades of fossil fuel dependence and infrastructure and pollute Gulf communities already at the bleeding edge of climate disaster without benefit to local residents.
The public comment period follows the agencies publishing a supplemental draft environmental impact statement (SDEIS). This SDEIS was required because GulfLink was ordered to redesign the project to comply with Clean Air Act rules on air pollution from offshore oil loading, a key demand of many members of the public. The first environmental review comment period was extended because the agencies failed to meaningfully engage Spanish-speaking communities in the initial environmental review process. MARAD must now prepare a final environmental impact statement which will include a public hearing and comment period.
GulfLink is one of four deepwater crude export facilities proposed for the Gulf of Mexico. The region is overburdened by fossil fuel industry development, and continually shoulders the burden of climate change-induced natural disasters caused by emissions from fossil fuel production and use. The project is proposed for construction only 7 miles downshore from the Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT), which was approved by the Biden Administration on Nov. 22, despite the Administration’s pledge to prioritize climate change and environmental justice in its decision making and promising to further reduce emissions at COP27.
Local community members and allied organizations have opposed GulfLink since the project was proposed in 2019. Two hundred and ninety organizations filed a legal petition with MARAD on Nov. 10 demanding that the Biden Administration immediately halt any new approvals of new deepwater port infrastructure, including GulfLink, as contrary to national interest. The GulfLink project is not permitted and is still missing vital authorization from MARAD and permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Ultimate license issuance by MARAD would allow Texas GulfLink, LLC to export one million barrels of crude oil each day on massive tankers the size of the Empire State Building.The project’s onshore terminal, located near Jones Creek in Brazoria County, would connect to existing crude oil supply sources upstream via a new 36-inch pipeline, threatening frontline communities, water resources, ecosystems and endangered wildlife with destructive oil spills. The air quality in Brazoria County has failed to meet EPA standards for decades.
“The fossil fuel industry is bombarding my community, and we can’t take it anymore. Just last week, the Biden Administration approved the SPOT oil export facility off our coastline, and now we’re having to mobilize to stop the other proposed oil project, GulfLink, just 7 miles down the coast,” said Melanie Oldham from Freeport, TX with Citizens for Clean Air and Water of Freeport and Brazoria County. “The hearings and comment periods for these fossil fuel projects are constant, and it’s too much. We can’t continue to be sacrificed to build yet another fossil fuel project that will destroy our air quality and the climate.”
“I’m calling on the Biden Administration to reject the GulfLink oil export facility and rescind the approval they issued last week for the SPOT oil project on our coastline,” said Gwen Jones from Freeport, TX. “Our community is not an oil production site to be used over, and over again for the latest fossil fuel production technology.”
“We have more than our fair share of industry on the Gulf Coast now. Approval for projects such as these, all while Biden was at COP pretending to be concerned about the environment, is the highest form of hypocrisy that I have ever witnessed.” said Pam Harris, resident of Surfside Beach. “Please stop GulfLink and any similar projects from degrading our precious Gulf Coast any more than it already has been!”
“Our area provides recreation and relaxation for residents and visitors alike. We deserve to have an environment that is safe and protected. A project such as GulfLink will only further burden the quality of our air, water and land, ” said Sue Page, resident of Surfside Beach. “Our natural resources are being exploited by companies that stand to make billions while sacrificing the place I call home.”
“GulfLink is another unnecessary, super-polluting project that will only cause more harm to the environment and Gulf Coast communities. MARAD already shirked its responsibility to communities by neglecting Spanish speakers in their initial environmental impact statement process. MARAD needs to actually engage community members and complete their re-do of GulfLink’s EIS before carelessly approving this destructive project,” said Rebekah Hinojosa, Sierra Club Gulf Coast Campaign Representative. “MARAD and the US Coast Guard should be doing everything they can to help this country transition away from its dependence on oil and gas, not increasing its output with more destructive infrastructure.”
“How many times do we have to tell Secretary Pete [Buttigieg] and President Biden that our Gulf communities are not sacrifice zones for rich corporate executives?” said Trevor Carroll, Fossil Fuel Exports Organizer for Texas Campaign for the Environment. “Texans are fed up with it and we’re keeping receipts.”
“Approving GulfLink is putting profit over people,” said Chrystal Beasley, Texas Gulf Coast Energy Campaigner at Earthworks. “The people of Brazoria County are the heartbeat of the community, and without a community, there’s no life here.”