Rebekah Staub, Earthworks, rstaub@earthworks.
SAN ANTONIO — The state agency charged with protecting Texan’s public health and natural resources is failing to do so, according to a new report released today.
A Marathon of Pollution: Marathon Oil’s decade of pollution in the Texas Eagle Ford Shale documents the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has not been able to effectively stop concerning pollution events at Marathon Oil’s Sugarhorn Central Processing Facility for ten years despite its own investigations, complaints from concerned residents, and optical gas imaging evidence.
Emissions at the Karnes County site in the Eagle Ford Shale have been regularly documented by TCEQ and Earthworks. Earthworks has yet to visit the site and not submit a complaint to TCEQ, requesting the agency investigate the emissions. One instance of pollution in 2014 was so severe it spiked air monitors 20 miles away in Floresville, exposing residents and workers to pollution far beyond the facility fenceline.
TCEQ’s own database reveals this trend is not unique to one site — Marathon Oil has received more than 300 violations from TCEQ over the past seven years, but only two of those violations have resulted in an administrative order and subsequent fine.
“This is just one example out of hundreds of thousands of oil and gas operators in Texas that are unable to meaningfully address toxic pollution that harms the climate and communities,” said Sharon Wilson, author of the report and senior field advocate at Earthworks. “Until President Biden stops oil and gas expansion, Texans will continue to breathe poisonous air and the United States will fail to meet any global climate commitments.”
Researchers at Earthworks regularly document oil and gas companies in Texas having free rein to pollute and methane is routinely released on a huge scale. Using special cameras that make the invisible methane spewing from oil and gas equipment visible, Wilson has repeatedly found evidence that methane is vented widely across Texas, with little to no consequences for operators.