Texas Environmental News

Exxon-Mobil exiting Russia operations

Dallas-based Exxon-Mobil said it will begin a phase out of their Russian operations in light of Putin’s attack on Ukraine. Their biggest project, a 30 percent share of Sakhalin Island 1 offshore, with a reported 2.3 billion barrels of oil and 17.1 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, will allegedly be forfeited. The joint-venture with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, and two Japanese corporations did not receive approval from the Obama administration in 2013 because of alleged Russian misconduct and environmental concerns. Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon, became President Trump’s secretary of state in 2016 and the project was green-lit. Joe Romm, of YearsofLivingDangerously.com suggests that the $500 billion project was plenty of incentive to push Russia to Trump’s side in the 2016 elections, assisting the billionaire through epistemological de-construction via the use of sham internet platforms.

Radioactive waste

Nuclear power, the nearly carbon-free mega generator of electricity and now endorsed by James Hansen as the only way to fill the gap in the transition to sustainable green power, still has one big problem –– what to do with the radioactive waste. Burying it in the Permian Basin seems to be the solution front runner as the federal government has approved a nuclear waste facility for spent uranium fuel rods near Andrews. 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 the permit as fears of radio-active leakage would keep oil workers out of the oil fields. Others suggest sending the radioactive waste into outer space. The risk of rocket failure, the issue of colliding with space debris and the incredible cost puts the space-solution somewhere beyond the stars. CNN reports 90,000 tons of radioactive waste has no home and is stored temporarily at nuke plants across America. Germany will decommission its last operating nuclear power plant next year while France is building more.

Salty crude

The federal government approved this week the release of 30 million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Supply stored in salt domes in Texas and Louisiana to supply Europe with energy. Russia, the largest crude oil exporter in the world, directs some 60 percent of its oil to Europe. With the Russian supply to Europe now in question due to the Ukrainian invasion, Republican senators in Washington are pushing for increased fossil fuel production in the U.S. Meantime a bill to outlaw Russian crude oil imports to the U.S. (about 1 percent of Russian exports) has been announced. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “Today’s announcement is another example of partners around the world condemning Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and working together to address the impact of President Putin’s war of choice.”

Space manna

A proponent of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Station adjacent to the Boca Chica State Park near Brownsville got lit on Facebook concerning the arrest of a local activist. Becca Hinojosa was arrested on a misdemeanor charge at her home by four Brownsville police officers last week. The crime: allegedly painting graffiti under a Musk-sponsored mural in downtown Brownsville. Hinojosa spent the next 24 hours in jail. That same day, Brownsville Mayor Trey Mendez, a big time supporter of Musk and his SpaceX center, posted her mug, full name and the picture of her alleged graffiti on his official Facebook page. The Texas Observer reports that backlash was quick. “You don’t make posts like this for every person that gets arrested so this seems personal and really unprofessional,” one post read. Former State Representative Arturo Alonzo said regarding the mural itself, painted by a California artist, “We should charge the artist … for the damn mural without history, without culture.” The Observer reported they found no similar Facebook posts by the mayor for misdemeanor arrests. SpaceX Brownsville has been highly criticized for disturbing wildlife including sea turtles and whooping cranes in the area with 24/7 lights, crowding a finite area at the mouth of the Rio Grande River, and space manna from exploding rockets.