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Energy & Environment

Report: Oil & Gas Industry Set To Release An Extra 220 Million Tons Of Greenhouse Gases By 2025

That’s about as much as 50 large coal plants, according to the Environmental Integrity Project.

ExxonMobil Baytown refinery
Dave Fehling / Houston Public Media
ExxonMobil's Baytown refinery released close to 12 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2018, according to an analysis by the Environmental Integrity Project.


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The oil and gas industry could release an additional 227 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S. by the year 2025, as companies expand drilling and build new plants, according to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project.

"If you count greenhouse gases from drilling operations and from compressor stations and the big tank farms and then you add in the petrochemical plants, we’re looking at an increase of more than a third compared to what we’ve seen in recent years," said Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project. "To put that in scale, that’s equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions that you’d get from more than 50 large coal plants."

The report looked at emissions permits and applications from oil and gas companies, drilling projections by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and emissions reports by companies to the EPA. Expanded drilling is expected to account for 36 million tons of the increase.

"The petrochemical industry is actually the fastest-growing source of [greenhouse gas] pollution in the U.S. right now," said Schaeffer. "And we're projecting that greenhouse gas load is going to continue to grow as these plants build out and keep expanding."

The oil and gas industry plans to build or expand 157 plants by the end of 2025, according to the report. Of those about half will be located in Texas and Louisiana, with the potential to produce a total of 145 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.

"We are looking at a very big cloud of greenhouse gas pollution, coming off of petrochemical plants that are concentrated in the Houston area, in particular, and along the Gulf Coast," said Schaeffer.

  • Click map to expand.  (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Environmental Integrity Project)
    Click map to expand. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Environmental Integrity Project)

Some of the biggest projects in the region are for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals. In Jefferson County, near Port Arthur, two LNG facilities are set to begin operations by the end of 2025, with permits to release a combined 12 million tons of greenhouse gases.

Beyond greenhouse gas emissions, Schaeffer said there are also concerns with smog and safety.

"As you keep building chemical plants in an area that already has so many of them you are going to see an increased risk of chemical accidents," he said. "And you've got a state environmental agency and federal agency at the same time that is losing staff and losing the capacity to keep up with those plants, make sure they're properly regulated and inspected."

In 2019, the Houston area had several major chemical plant fires, including a fire at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) petrochemical facility in Deer Park that burned for days, sending a black plume of smoke over the area. Most recently, a fire broke out in December at a TPC plant in Port Neches.

In 2018, the oil and gas industry emitted 764 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution in the U.S., according to the report. Exxon Mobil's Baytown refinery was the biggest emitter among refineries, releasing 11.8 million tons of greenhouse gases, followed by the Galveston Bay Refinery, which emitted 7.7 million tons.

Read the full report, here, or via the embed below.