Texas Environmental News

Energy Transfer charged for polluting

A branch of Dallas-based Energy Transfer was criminally charged last week for violating Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law on nine different counts, including unlawful conduct and discharging industrial pollutants into the environment. ETC Northeast Pipeline LLC allegedly ignored environmental protocols which led to an explosion, according to the prosecution. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said, “The grand jurors heard testimony and examined records that showed that explosion happened because of Energy Transfer’s negligence as they built the Revolution pipeline.” Pennsylvania stopped work on other Energy Transfer pipelines in the past and has fined the company millions of dollars. If ETC Northeast is found guilty of the current criminal charges, it is not likely that a human will be jailed, although the Articles of Incorporation may spend time in a state file cabinet. Although the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have the same rights as humans, none of the decision-makers will be held criminally liable, including billionaire ET Chairman Kelsey Warren, one of Governor Gregory Abbott’s top campaign donors. Former Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower said of the Supreme Court decision, “I’ll believe that a corporation is a person when Texas executes one.”

Low-incoming housing put in toxic environment

The Corpus Christi Housing Authority is under pressure for allowing new homes for low-income families to be built on refinery row. The subdivision known as Dona Park is boxed in by petrochemical facilities and the Corpus Christi Ship Channel. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times wrote, “Compatibility between its residential uses and the industrial operations surrounding it — including the ship channel and refineries — has long been questioned.” Attorney David Wheaton, representing the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, said, “There’s plenty of other areas in the city of Corpus Christi for them to build housing, for them to build single-family homes and not have to relegate Black and brown people to … higher-poverty areas and more environment toxic areas.” Gary Allsup, executive director of the Corpus Christi Housing Authority, told the Caller-Times, “Our hope is that these neighborhoods begin to shine, and that’s something we’ve seen happen. When we go in and put a house up, it’s amazing how other houses in the neighborhood follow suit.” Tammy Foster, a longtime Dona Park resident said, “You can’t revitalize a neighborhood that’s been decimated by industry forming around it. Industry is not going away and they’re not stopping construction.”

Abbott joins petition to vacate waste dump permit

Texas Governor Gregory Abbott has lent his name to a big-oil led petition asking the Fifth Circuit of Appeals Court in New Orleans to vacate a federal nuclear waste dump permit granted last year for a West Texas facility. Interim Storage Partners, partially owned by the estate of the late Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, received the license. Some speculate that should radiation leak from the underground storage containers, it will be harder to find workers for the oil fields of the Permian Basin.

Permian oil companies ramp up production

Carbon budget logic doesn’t seem to be affecting Permian Basin fossil fuel producers. With most countries, including the U.S., now committed to preventing a 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in average global temperatures by 2040, Texas seems oblivious. According to the International Energy Agency, oil and gas production must decline this decade, and investment in new production must end this year. But in the Permian, according to Oil Change International, oil companies are planning more production than ever before. Production is projected to grow 50 percent from 2021 to 2030. With infrastructure constructed during the Trump administration, oil and gas export terminals and pipelines in Texas conveniently ensure oil and gas viability for decades to come.