Biden Administration Under Fire for Greenlighting Massive Offshore Oil Terminal

The Biden administration is facing intense backlash from climate advocates following its approval of what is poised to be the largest offshore oil terminal in the United States. Climate action groups are lambasting the administration’s assertion that the project serves the “national interest,” with concerns mounting over its environmental impact and departure from climate goals.

The Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT), spearheaded by Houston-based pipeline company Enterprise Product Partners, secured a deepwater port license from the U.S. Department of Transportation after a five-year federal review process. Despite objections from environmental organizations like the Sierra Club and Earthworks, federal authorities deemed the $1.8 billion terminal project compliant with environmental regulations and beneficial to the nation’s interests.

Critics argue that the projected emissions from SPOT, equivalent to nearly 90 coal-fired power plants, pose a dire threat to the climate, wildlife, and frontline communities in the Gulf. Devorah Ancel, senior attorney with the Sierra Club, condemned the decision, asserting that SPOT jeopardizes the existence of endangered species like the Rice’s whale and exacerbates ozone pollution, particularly affecting Gulf residents already burdened by decades of fossil fuel industry pollution.

Kelsey Crane, senior policy advocate at Earthworks, underscored the adverse impacts on local communities, highlighting the heightened risk of oil spills, explosions, and pollution. Moreover, the approval of SPOT contradicts the International Energy Agency’s call to halt all new investments in oil and gas projects to meet climate targets.

The Biden administration’s decision drew sharp criticism from grassroots organizations like Climate Defiance, questioning its commitment to climate action and environmental justice. With climate disasters on the rise and global temperatures soaring, the approval of SPOT reflects a troubling disregard for the urgency of the climate crisis.

Local organizers in Texas echoed these sentiments, condemning the administration’s prioritization of corporate interests over environmental protection and community well-being. Trevor Carroll, Brazoria County lead organizer with Texas Campaign for the Environment, emphasized the ongoing resistance against SPOT and its potential devastation to marine habitats and coastal communities.

Despite the administration’s recent initiatives to address climate change, such as delaying new gas export terminals and increasing royalties for fossil fuel extraction on federal lands, the approval of SPOT represents a stark contradiction. Climate Defiance labeled the administration’s actions as mere “flip-flopping,” emphasizing the imperative of aligning policy decisions with scientific consensus and climate imperatives.

As the battle against SPOT intensifies, grassroots movements and environmental advocates vow to continue the fight for climate justice and the protection of frontline communities. The approval of SPOT serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for bold, decisive action to confront the climate crisis and transition to a sustainable, renewable energy future.