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Media Contact:

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

Midland/Odessa, Texas — The Texas Permian Basin is now the world’s largest source of oil and gas pollution, according to the pollution tracking consortium Climate TRACE.

“It’s impossible to ignore the role the Texas Permian Basin has in fueling the climate crisis,” said Sharon Wilson, certified thermographer and senior field advocate at Earthworks. “Until President Biden stops all oil and gas expansion in backyards all over the United States, we won’t prevent catastrophic climate change or meet our global climate commitments.”

Oil production in the Permian Basin has grown five-fold in the past decade. Just this month oil output in the Permian is forecast to rise by about 50,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a record 5.453 million bpd. The maximum level of oil production in the Permian Basin during the Trump administration was 4.9 million bpd in March 2020. 

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 the Permian Basin, with little to no consequences for operators.

To facilitate production growth in the Permian, a massive build-out of gas processing plants, pipelines, export terminals and petrochemical complexes has emerged, creating a network of industrial pollution from southeast New Mexico to the Gulf Coast of Texas. This has intensified existing environmental injustice and racism across this vast region, and spread it to areas yet to experience it.