CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — An injunction filed in federal court by local indigenous and environmental groups Tuesday seeks to pause dredging and other expansion at Moda Midstream in Ingleside.
The preliminary injunction, filed against the Army Corps of Engineers, seeks to enjoin the Corps from approving any dredging or construction activity until a decision is rendered following a complaint filed August 3 in federal court.
“If Moda proceeds, they will irreparably damage sensitive sport fishing marine environments before we have our day in court. Once vital seagrasses and historical artifacts are destroyed, it is impossible to put them back together,” said Jennifer Hilliard, Treasurer of Ingleside on the Bay Coastal Watch Association. “The Army Corps of Engineers granted this permit without considering the full impacts on our local community."
From January 2020 to February 2021, the Moda terminal exported an average of about 780,000 barrels of oil per day. This represented about 24 percent of total crude oil exports in the United States.
Indigenous Peoples of the Coastal Bend, The Karankawa Kadla Tribe, and Ingleside on the Bay Coastal Watch Association argue that the permit was issued to Moda without addressing environmental and community concerns. They say this is a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.
They say the permit also allows Moda to expand its operations into an undeveloped area sacred to local Indigenous people.
Thousands of artifacts have been discovered at McGloin's Bluff, which is located on the Corpus Christi Bay at the Moda terminal. According to injunction documents, the site was historically used for sacred rituals.
"We want to prevent any disturbance of cultural artifacts of my ancestors that could occur, if the court does not act now to stop Moda. If they continue their operation of dredging in areas where thousands of Karankawa artifacts have already been found, this will further contribute to the genocide of my ancestors’ history,” said Love Sanchez. “The land and water are important to our culture. Destroying something so sacred without properly evaluating its impacts to the environment or people, is an act of negligence and erasure of indigenous people.”
In a statement, Moda said, "This permit is a public record and clearly shows that the permitted expansion will not impact any historical areas. As part of the US Army Corps of Engineers permitting process, an underwater survey was conducted, and the Texas Historical Commission reviewed the survey and concurred there are no cultural resource concerns. We remain confident that the nearly year-and-a-half application review process was comprehensive, and that the permit was properly issued."
Among the additional issues raised by the plaintiffs include the degradation of seagrass; the impacts of noise, air, and light pollution on the neighboring community; and the failure by the Corps to document and assess the risks of oil spills and accidents.