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Environmental groups respond to Trump’s call for Port of Corpus Christi improvements

Posted: 9:26 PM, Oct 25, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-26 16:03:11-04

President Trump on Monday issued a challenge to Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler to help Texas ports accommodate what he called “big ships” that currently can’t access Texas ports because they’re too shallow and/or narrow.

The Port of Corpus Christi is one such port, but there are plans in place to widen and deepen the Corpus Christi Shipping Channel to make way for Very Large Crude Carriers, or VLCC’s.

“Right now, it’s vital that we expand our capabilities,” Rep. Michael Cloud, Congressman for the Corpus Christi-area said. “We are producing more oil than we can get out as a nation. Corpus Christi Port serves as the spigot for oil production in our nation and we need a bigger spigot.”

Trump, Cloud, and other leaders tout channel widening and deepening as economic engines. Sierra Club of the Coastal Bend Chairman Hal Suter sees it as an environmental problem. His chief concern is where crews will locate the spoil, the material that’s removed when the channel gets dredged.

“That could have an economic impact on the bay,” Suter said. “If you have a dead bay, there goes your shrimping and your fishing, your recreational fishing, and all these other types of things.”

Despite Suters concerns, plans to widen and deepen the shipping channel are on course, Matt Garcia, spokesperson for the Port of Corpus Christi says. He says $114 million in funding is already in place for the $360 million project. Rep. Cloud, fresh off a trip to Washington, D.C. aboard Air Force One and a conversation with President Trump, is confident the rest of the money is on the way.

“Very receptive, very positive, very eager to see things move forward,” Cloud said of his conversation with the president.