Some of the biggest players in the country’s petroleum industry are lobbying Texan officials hard to subsidize a coastal infrastructure project that will protect their oil refineries and other assets from the consequences of global climate change. Despite the evidence that fossil fuel companies contribute more than virtually all others towards the increased amount of CO2 in the atmosphere that’s driving the bulk of the world’s climate change, some big oil officials see an ambitious project to build 60 miles of seawalls and levees as their opportunity to punt the costs of fighting rising sea levels to taxpayers.

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A 60-mile wall on the Texas Gulf coast

After Hurricane Harvey devastated wide swaths of Texas, state officials and citizens began brainstorming possible solutions to rising sea levels and global climate change that’s increasingly threatening the Lone Star state and its coastal cities. One idea that’s gained mainstream appeal is a 60-mile wall of levees, concrete barriers, gates and other infrastructure developments that would help protect coastal infrastructure, cities, and oil refineries.

Big oil seeks government bailout to protect itself from climate change Photo Credit: Paul Lowry/Flickr
Big oil seeks government bailout to protect itself from climate change Photo Credit: Paul Lowry/Flickr

Already, nearly $4 billion in funding has been secured specifically to protect oil facilities, which produce the immense amounts of fuel needed to power the vehicles and industry that churn out the CO2 hastening the change in our planet’s climate. According to CBS News, a government fast-tracked $3.9 billion will fund three separate projects specifically designed to protect oil refiners and associated infrastructure along the Texas Gulf Coast.

The coastal barrier

A report to the 85th Texas Legislature lays out the details behind a coastal barrier system that could soon come to dominate the state’s coastlines, which many big oil officials see as an opportunity to foist the costs of fighting climate change onto taxpayers.

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Texas wants some $12 billion for the full coastal barrier project, from Texas title lenders, much of which will be devoted towards the protection of industry.

"You're looking at a lot of people, a lot of homes, but really a lot of industry," Steve Sherrill, an Army Corps of Engineers resident engineer in Port Arthur, told CBS when referencing the project.

Such “future-proofing” of the nation’s coast will likely continue to be necessary as superstorms inflamed by changing climate patterns, like Hurricane Harvey, continue to slam into coastal ports and cities which are vital to the nation’s economy and home to millions of Americans.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some 65 percent of all global greenhouse emissions are composed of CO2 from fossil fuels and industrial processes.

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