Environmental Impact

The Economics Do Not Justify the Lone Star Port Project

The Environmental Impact

The potential environmental impact to the bays connected to the Corpus Christi Ship Channel entrance are immense. Harbor Island is located in the Redfish Bay State Scientific Area, which is home to numerous indigenous waterbirds, fish, oysters, crabs and two endangered species: Kemp’s ridley nesting turtles and whooping cranes, the populations of which would be irrevocably harmed should this dredging and development proceed.

The risk to the environment and tourism is not worth the risk of developing an on-shore crude oil terminal in Port Aransas, especially when the Port has already agreed to develop an offshore terminal that would almost double its daily crude export capacity.

“We feel the Harbor Island project is antithetical to what we have. Not only is this a nice place to live, we have an environment that works. This is a marine life engine. They want to bring in all this heat, pressure and chemicals. Common sense says that is not a good idea.”

– Barney Farley, whose great-Uncle Charles Farley helped establish the iconic Farley Boat Works in 1915.
  • The dredging of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel (CCSC) would be the deepest channel depth of any on-shore crude oil-export facility in the United States and the deepest into an estuary. The project proposes to dig up parts of the surrounding beds of the bay, risking harm to the seagrasses, as well as the sea turtles that rely on those sea grasses.
  • Were this dredging to occur, it would be following in the footsteps of other environmentally devastated estuaries, including Sabine Pass, Bolivar Cut, Houston Ship Channel, Texas City, Freeport, Brazosport, and Matagorda. The Texas Coastal Bend is the last accessible clean estuary system left in the state, and for the benefit of the environment, as well as the hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, it should be protected.
  • Were an oil spill to occur at Harbor Island in Port Aransas, the effects would be disastrous for wildlife habitats, as well as the city’s two largest industries: fishing and tourism.
  • Harbor Island is known to have soil contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons from prior oil operations there decades ago. The project proposes to dredge soil from the island and dispose of it in the nearby waters, thereby contaminating the waters into which it is placed.
  • The local waters are known for significant fish spawning and larval development and are a major source for supplying fish populations in the greater gulf area. A crude oil terminal on Harbor Island would disturb this fragile ecology, diminishing the size and numbers of fish populations in the area and directly harm local fisheries by reducing the number of fish in the region available to be harvested. This reduction in fish populations would also hurt sport fishing and other recreational fishing.

“Right now, it’s a pretty healthy population of fish, shrimp and crabs, all of which use the channel … the larvae are sensitive to the sediments caused by dredging, to petroleum products or to any chemicals that contaminate the water. Those are all worrisome to me as a scientist.”

– Joan Holt, City Council Place 6, fears the potential harmful effects on the estuary and sea grasses that serve as a nursery for Port A’s fishing industry.

TX Parks and Wildlife Dept and TX General Land Office Study:

Aransas Pass NOT an Appropriate
Location for Desalination Plant

In 2017, the 84th Texas Legislature passed a bill that required the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas General Land Office to conduct a study concerning marine seawater desalination.

The study reported that Aransas Pass is one of five major coastal passes connecting the Gulf of Mexico with Texas coastal bays and estuaries that need to be protected. As direct connections to the Gulf, protection of water chemistry within these passes is critical since water quality and salinity levels within bays and estuaries directly influences marine life and the habitats upon which they depend for food and shelter.

In spite of its clear recommendation, the Port of Corpus Christi and the Berry Company continue to pursue a desalination plant to serve a proposed crude oil facility on Harbor Island. These projects threaten the ecology, fisheries, tourism economy and quality of life of the Coastal Bend.

Red stars show the locations of five major passes connecting the Gulf of Mexico with Texas bays and estuaries. Credit: TPWD/Lynne Hamlin