Today, a coalition of Gulf and environmental groups represented by Earthjustice announced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has once again delayed its timing to seek bids to dredge the Matagorda Bay shipping channel through an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site to vastly expand exports from an oil export terminal on the Texas Gulf Coast.
The Department of Justice, which represents the Army Corps, said in a joint status report to the Judge overseeing the federal lawsuit that it anticipates delaying soliciting bids for the first section of the dredging project until December 2023 at the earliest.
Max Midstream, the company which hopes to profit from the dredging of the shipping channel from the Gulf of Mexico to allow larger oil tankers to reach the company’s proposed oil export terminal, had previously stated it would pay for the entire federal dredging project. It has had significant financial troubles and is facing legal challenges from community groups against the Army Corps’ decision to move forward with the project and the company’s air permit in state court.
“It’s clear that stirring up deadly toxins is not only bad for the health of our community and bays but it’s also bad for dirty fossil fuel business,” said Diane Wilson, fourth-generation shrimper and executive director of San Antonio Estuarine Bay Waterkeeper. “The Army Corps should recognize the harm this project would cause and permanently cancel the bid to dig up dangerous industrial waste that our fishing community has spent decades trying to recover from.”
“This delay is welcome news for communities that would be harmed by this dredging project and an obvious sign that this project needs to be re-evaluated,” said Erin Gaines, senior attorney at Earthjustice. “We’re committed to bringing the case to a close before any dredging takes place.”
Earthjustice represents San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper, Earthworks, Environmental Integrity Project, Turtle Island Restoration Project, and Texas Campaign for the Environment in a lawsuit in May against the Army Corps to force a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the dredging project after new information had come to light about the anticipated use of the shipping channel and the risks of increased greenhouse gas emissions, mercury contamination, and significant impacts on the lives and livelihoods of people working in the fishing industry.