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Government and Industry Advocate for Coastal Spine while Letting Industry Off the Hook Financially

Sept. 12, 2017

Government and Industry Advocate for Coastal Spine while Letting Industry Off the Hook Financially

Leaders of the city of Houston, the city of Morgan’s Point, the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership and the Texas General Land Office during a press conference Tuesday highlighted the need of a system to protect the Houston region, and, in particular, the Houston Ship Channel from the potential devastation of storm surge associated with hurricanes. Even without much storm surge in Galveston Bay, Hurricane Harvey demonstrated the serious risks not only of flooding but also toxic pollution associated with storms.

Mayor Sylvester Turner talked about the need for mitigation, acknowledging that the intensity of storms has been increasing recently. Warming of the oceans, a byproduct of global climate change, is contributing to the intensity of storms like Harvey. A preliminary cost for the coastal spine is estimated to be between $11 billion and $14 billion, which Turner is calling upon the federal government to pay for and build as part of Harvey recovery efforts. The coastal spine would be a structure that would help protect Galveston Bay and the Houston Ship Channel from storm surge.

Based on today’s presentation, the drive behind the coastal spine is clear: to protect the economic viability and assets of the petrochemical industry, an industry that has been shown to have contributed 57 percent of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere and approximately 42 to 50 percent of the rise in global mean surface temperature between 1880 and 2010.

“The very petrochemical industry which has emitted more than half of the global carbon emissions that have had such a massive role in creating storms like Harvey has most to gain from the protection of its facilities,” said Stephanie Thomas, Houston-based organizer with Public Citizen’s Texas office. “The industry should pay more than half of the costs of building the coastal spine.”