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Statement: Corpus Christi Petrochemical Plant Announces “Pause” on Construction

Statement: Corpus Christi Petrochemical Plant Announces “Pause” on Construction

Corpus Christi, Texas (October 6, 2023) – The international conglomerates backing the Corpus Christi Polymers plant in Texas have recently announced that they are pausing further development of the facility. Industry reporting in July indicated that construction was resuming after a previous halt, but a statement published one week ago from the plant’s Taiwan, Thailand, and Mexico based backers cited several “challenging” factors, including a labor shortage, for this newly announced pause. 

The recent three-year delay of construction on the plant came not long after the original developer filed for bankruptcy and sold the site to its current owners. Development of Corpus Christi Polymers has also faced serious community opposition since it was announced. Groups like the Coastal Alliance to Protect Our Environment, For the Greater Good, Indigenous Peoples of the Coastal Bend, and the Texas Campaign for the Environment have opposed the plant’s construction, appearing at permitting hearings and advocating to local and state leaders. Just last year, the Environmental Protection Agency expressed concerns about how the plant and its desalination facility would affect water quality in the surrounding bay.

“Let’s make this pause permanent,” said Heather McTeer Toney, Executive Director, Beyond Petrochemicals. “The Corpus Christi community deserves more than this roller coaster of economic promises being pushed by the petrochemical industry. Companies have been playing hot potato with this project for more than five years and nothing has come from it while people are left wondering what’s next.”

According to a 2022 report from Defend Our Health, if the Corpus Christi Polymers plant were to ever be built it would be the largest Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plant in the world, producing at least one million tons of carbon pollution and increasing North America’s PET plastics production capacity by nearly 25 percent. PET is a common petrochemical product often used to manufacture plastic items like bottles, polyester, and other single-use materials.

“This plant would bring pollution, community health problems, and is already struggling to live up to the economic promises its backers are making,” added Toney. “While these companies are citing economic challenges for their broken promises, they are leaving a wake of health, environmental, and economic challenges for the communities in which they already operate. This is not the route to a clean energy future. Communities know better and they want better.”

More on PET Production: 

  • Only about 11 percent of products manufactured with PET and polyester have ever been recycled, and nine times out of ten it is recycled for only one additional use. 
  • A 2023 report from Defend Our Health and Beyond Petrochemicals detailed how PET requires hundreds of chemicals, including the most potent cancer-causing chemical emitted by petrochemical manufacturers, ethylene oxide (EtO). 
  • The process also relies on antimony, a chemical which has been found to disproportionately impact Black and Latinx communities. 
  • The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that another chemical used for PET manufacturing, 1,4-dioxane, poses an “unreasonable risk” to not only the people working in a PET plant but the surrounding communities whose water supply is most often polluted by the toxic chemical.

Next month, Beyond Petrochemicals and its partners will travel to Nairobi, Kenya for the next phase of negotiations on a global plastics treaty. The process, led by the United Nations, seeks to curb global plastic pollution. 

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MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Smelser, matt@beyondpetrochemicals.org 

About Beyond Petrochemicals

Launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies in September 2022, Beyond Petrochemicals: People Over Pollution aims to halt the rapid expansion of petrochemical and plastic pollution in the United States. The campaign draws on the success of the Beyond Coal campaign, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Bloomberg’s Beyond Carbon campaign, to turbocharge existing efforts led by frontline communities to block the rapid expansion of 120+ petrochemical projects concentrated in three target geographies – Louisiana, Texas, and the Ohio River Valley. The campaign also works to establish stricter rules for existing petrochemical plants to safeguard the health of American communities. To date, Beyond Petrochemicals has helped raise awareness and lead timely collaboration efforts using its four pillars of community leadership, data and research, legislation and litigation, and stakeholder engagement to accelerate its goals. For more information, please visit us online and follow us on LinkedIn.