Environmentalists protest as Biden administration approves huge oil export terminal off Texas coast

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a move that environmentalists called a betrayal, the Biden administration has approved construction of a deep-water oil export terminal off the coast. Texas coast which would be the largest of its kind in the United States.

The Sea Port oil terminal under development off Freeport, Texas, will be able to load two supertankers at a time, with an export capacity of 2 million barrels of crude oil per day. The $1.8 billion project by Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners received a deepwater port license this week from the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration, the final step in a five-year federal review.

Environmentalists denounced the license’s approval, saying it contradicted that of President Joe Biden. climate program and would result in “disastrous” global greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from nearly 90 coal-fired power plants. The action could jeopardize support for Biden from his environmental allies and young voters already disillusioned by the Democratic administration’s endorsement last year of mass voting. Willow Oil Project in Alaska.

“Nothing about this project aligns with President Biden’s goals on climate and environmental justice,” said Kelsey Crane, senior policy advocate at Earthworks, an environmental group that has long opposed the export terminal.

“Communities that will be affected by (the oil terminal) have once again been ignored and will be forced to live with the threat of further oil spills, explosions and pollution,” Crane said. “The best way to protect people and the climate from the harm of oil is to keep it in the ground. »

In a statement released after the license was approved, the Maritime Administration said the project met a number of requirements imposed by Congress, including extensive environmental reviews and a federal determination that operation of the port was in the national interest.

“As the Biden-Harris Administration accelerates America’s transition to a clean energy future, steps are also being taken to manage the near-term transition,” the agency, nicknamed MARAD, said.

The administration’s multi-year review included consultations with at least 20 federal, state and local agencies, MARAD said. The agency ultimately determined that the project would have no significant effect on the production or consumption of U.S. crude oil.

“Although (greenhouse gas) emissions associated with the upstream production and downstream end use of the crude oil that will be exported from the project may represent a significant amount of GHG emissions, these emissions occur already largely part of the US crude oil supply chain. “, the agency said in an email to the Associated Press. “Therefore, the project itself is likely to have a minimal effect on current GHG emissions associated with the entire chain supply of American crude oil.”

Environmental groups scoffed at the claim.

“The Biden administration needs to stop flip-flopping on fossil fuels,” said Cassidy DiPaola of Fossil Free Media, a nonprofit group that opposes the use of fossil fuels such as oil. coal and natural gas.

“Approving the Seaport Oil Terminal after suspending LNG exports is not only bad news for our climate, it is inconsistent policy,” DiPaola said. Biden “can’t claim to be a climate leader one day, then turn around and give massive aid to the oil industry the next. It’s time for President Biden to listen to the overwhelming majority of voters who want to see a shift away from fossil fuels, not a doubling down on dirty and deadly energy projects.

DiPaola was referring to the administration’s January announcement that delay consideration of new natural gas export terminals in the United States, although gas shipments to Europe and Asia have soared since Russia invaded Ukraine.

The decision, announced at the start of the 2024 presidential election year, aligned the Democratic president with environmentalists who fear that the huge increase in exports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, could block potentially catastrophic emissions responsible for of global warming, even though Biden did it. committed to halving climate pollution by 2030.

Industry groups and Republicans have condemned the pause, saying LNG exports stabilize global energy markets, support thousands of American jobs and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by steering countries away from coal , a much dirtier fossil fuel.

Enterprise CEO Jim Teague welcomed the approval of the oil project. The terminal will provide “a more environmentally friendly, safer, more efficient and more cost-effective way to deliver crude oil to global markets,” it said in a statement.

The project will include two pipelines to transport crude from the coast to the deep-water port, reducing the need for ship-to-ship oil transfers. The terminal is expected to begin operations by 2027.

Since the project was first submitted for federal review in 2019, “Enterprise has worked diligently with various federal, state and local authorities, and participated in several public meetings that allowed individuals and groups of parties stakeholders to learn about the project and provide their comments. “, including some studies that have been translated into Spanish and Vietnamese, the company said in a statement. More than half of Freeport’s 10,600 residents are Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, hailed the approval of the license as “a major victory for the Texas energy industry” and said the Biden administration had delayed the seaport terminal for years and other projects.

“After the tireless work of my office and many others to secure this deepwater port license, I am pleased that we will help create more jobs in Texas and greater energy security for America and our allies” , Cruz said in a statement. “The fact that this victory was delayed by years of unnecessary bureaucratic prevarication shows why we need broader licensing reform in this country.”

The oil export facility, one of several license applications under review by the federal government, is located 30 miles off the coast of Brazoria County, Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico.

The approval of the license follows a ruling last week by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting environmental groups’ allegations that federal agencies failed to follow federal environmental laws when their review of the project.

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Sara Adm

Aimant les mots, Sara Smith a commencé à écrire dès son plus jeune âge. En tant qu'éditeur en chef de son journal scolaire, il met en valeur ses compétences en racontant des récits impactants. Smith a ensuite étudié le journalisme à l'université Columbia, où il est diplômé en tête de sa classe.Après avoir étudié au New York Times, Sara décroche un poste de journaliste de nouvelles. Depuis dix ans, il a couvert des événements majeurs tels que les élections présidentielles et les catastrophes naturelles. Il a été acclamé pour sa capacité à créer des récits captivants qui capturent l'expérience humaine.
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