In an extraordinary story that illustrates the insanity of modern capitalism, big oil companies are asking the federal government to protect them from the disastrous effects of climate change.
To help protect local residents, sensitive ecosystems and infrastructure in the wake of more and more extreme weather events, there is a proposal by the state of Texas to build a nearly 60-mile series of concrete seawalls, gates and barriers on the Texas Gulf Coast. The wall, described as a "spinal" structure, is also being built to help protect vulnerable oil refineries owned by some of the largest conglomerates in the world including Chevron, DuPont, Valero and Total S.A. Reports the AP:
The plan is focused on a stretch of coastline that runs from the Louisiana border to industrial enclaves south of Houston that are home to one of the world's largest concentrations of petrochemical facilities, including most of Texas' 30 refineries, which represent 30 percent of the nation's refining capacity.
Texas is seeking at least $12 billion for the full coastal spine, with nearly all of it coming from public funds. Last month, the government fast-tracked an initial $3.9 billion for three separate, smaller storm barrier projects that would specifically protect oil facilities.
That followed Hurricane Harvey, which roared ashore last Aug. 25 and swamped Houston and parts of the coast, temporarily knocking out a quarter of the area's oil refining capacity and causing average gasoline prices to jump 28 cents a gallon nationwide. Many Republicans argue that the Texas oil projects belong at the top of Washington's spending list.
"Our overall economy, not only in Texas but in the entire country, is so much at risk from a high storm surge," said Matt Sebesta, a Republican who as Brazoria County judge oversees a swath of Gulf Coast.
According to the report, the proposals that were approved for funding "originally called for building more protections along larger swaths of the Texas coast, but they were scaled back and now deliberately focus on refineries." Apparently, big oil and chemical companies initially "pushed for more protection for surrounding communities to shield their workforces," but according to Sheri Willey, deputy chief of project management for the Army Corps of Engineers' upper Texas district who was interview for the AP story,"not every property can be protected."
"Our regulations tell us what benefits we need to include, and they have to be national economic benefits," she said.
While there are many industries responsible for contributing to climate change, oil and coal companies represent the vast, vast majority of the pollution driving the planet towards catastrophe. According to a study published in the journal Climatic Change, the climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused almost entirely by 90 companies, which have produced 63% of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the beginning of the industrial age. And of those companies, 83 of them are energy companies producing oil, gas and coal.
It is a testament to the complete irrationality of our priorities that place profit over the health of our living environment. Not only are companies responsible for creating climate change able to raid the public funds to protect their businesses from the weather they helped create, they then use their windfalls to lobby governments to stop them from being regulated or paying taxes. Their continued polluting of the atmosphere also guarantees that more funds will be needed to protect them from the inevitable blowback from the earth's bio-systems.
It is worth repeating that there is absolutely no need for us to use fossil fuels to power our lives anymore -- advancements in green technology do not require us to continue drilling into the earth for coal and oil. The only reason we are still reliant on these colossal energy companies wreaking havoc on our environment is that our politicians won't stand up to the industry, and won't even admit it is a problem. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz called the tax payer funded wall "a tremendous step forward."
For the oil companies yes, but not so much for the planet.