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Locals to voice environmental concerns over proposed offshore oil terminal

Environmental concerns over proposed oil terminal
Posted at 8:24 PM, Jan 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-04 23:17:44-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — If the Environmental Protection Agency is going to grant air permits for a proposed oil terminal 15 miles off the coast of Port Aransas, the agency will do so after hearing the concerns of several local residents and organizations.

“There are so many problems associated with this project," Errol Summerlin with Coastal Alliance to Protect our Environment said.

Summerlin's concerns include toxic gas emissions, the possibility of oil leaking, and potential damage to the local ecosystem.

He'll present those concerns to the E.P.A. at public hearings Tuesday and Wednesday.

"Not only would pipelines go through communities, but also through environmentally sensitive areas," he said.

The so-called Bluewater project proposes building two, 30-inch pipelines from an oil storage facility near Taft into the Gulf of Mexico where the world's largest tankers would take on full loads of crude.

It's seen by some as an alternative to plans to build an oil terminal on Harbor Island -- and a good one at that.

“Our organization is advocating for an offshore oil terminal as a common sense alternative to the Port of Corpus Christi's plans to build a massive export terminal on Harbor Island,” Travis Thomas of the Texas Coastal Coalition said.

Thomas says if creating the offshore terminal would lead to scrapping the Harbor Island plans, local communities would benefit.

“There are a lot of livelihoods that depend on a healthy ecology as well as a healthy tourism sector, and by moving the facility off shore we alleviate all of those risks,” Thomas said.

Summerlin rejects Bluewater as an acceptable alternative, and he believes the Harbor Island terminal would still be constructed even if the offshore terminal existed.

“This is not a good alternative," Summerlin said. "It shouldn’t be an alternative at all. But if it is, by God it’s going to be tightened up. Those permits better be tight.”

After this week's public hearings, it's unclear when the E.P.A. will make a determination on air permits, and the project needs other permits before it can proceed.

Stay with KRIS 6 News for updates on this developing story.