Our Texas communities, and others all around the world, are under assault. There is no debate. The fossil fuel industry is poisoning our air and water, and changing our climate in ways that threaten our survival.
With the future of our families and millions of others at stake, it’s time to start calling out the companies and people responsible – especially when they're also driving up bills for Texans by selling our oil and gas to the highest foreign bidder.
Make no mistake: the Terrible 12 are only a few of the worst fossil fuel profiteers in Texas. But these dirty dozen oil and gas exporters have distinguished themselves by ignoring the pleas of communities whose survival they put at risk, and jeopardizing the livability of our entire planet in pursuit of fat profits for their executives and shareholders.
Few are household names, but our plan is to help give them some of the infamy they richly deserve. If you’ve got info on these polluters or projects that we don’t, share it with us!
Cheniere is a Houston-based LNG giant founded by the famously objectionable Charif Souki and now led by CEO Jack Fusco. In 2016, Cheniere became the first U.S. exporter of liquified “natural” gas; today it is the largest U.S. LNG exporter, and the second largest globally, with 2020 profits of $3.87 billion.
Cheniere is best known in the fossil fuel industry as the owner and operator of the Sabine Pass LNG facility near Port Arthur, the largest LNG terminal in the United States. Last year Cheniere was fined $2.2 million by federal regulators for violations at Sabine Pass LNG that could have created a flammable cloud of gas. Experts later estimated that 825,000 cubic feet of gas had leaked into the air.
In the Coastal Bend, Cheniere is behind the sprawling Corpus Christi LNG, located on the La Quinta Channel in San Patricio County. With three liquefaction trains capable of producing 15 mtpa of LNG, the facility is well known to nearby residents for its flare tower, which can shoot flames 80 feet into the air. When the flare is lit, it releases hundreds of pounds of harmful pollutants – volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and others – that jeopardize the health of nearby communities. Just last year, Cheniere asked state regulators to authorize more pollution from their Corpus facility. Despite all of this, Cheniere’s Corpus facility has received $857 million in state tax abatements – the largest tax break of its kind in Texas history.
Now Cheniere is seeking a major expansion of Corpus Christi LNG, proposing to increase capacity by more than 75%. Alarmingly, the company already owns enough adjacent property that the facility could ultimately expand even beyond the current proposal. Local activists have organized to oppose Cheniere’s expansion, and environmental advocates have pushed regulators to reconsider the facility’s operating and expansion permits. Meanwhile, putting his humanity on full display, CEO Fusco recently noted that the destabilization of the European LNG market following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine delivers “tailwinds for our business.” Real nice, Jack. Learn more at FearCheniere.com.
Enbridge is a multinational fossil fuel pipeline company headquartered in Alberta, Canada. The company’s extensive pipeline system is the largest in North America with over 17,000 miles of crude oil pipelines and 23,000 miles of "natural" gas pipelines. Traded on the NYSE as ENB, Enbridge reported 2021 “gross” income of $14.6 billion. Enbridge’s CEO is Al Monaco; the company's Texas leadership includes Board Chairman Gregory Ebel.
Enbridge has one of the worst safety records of any major pipeline company. Most notably, the company was responsible for the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history in 1991, when 1.7 million gallons of oil ruptured from a Minnesota pipeline, spilling into a wetland and tributary of the Mississippi River. Enbridge was also responsible for spilling over a million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. The company’s data shows it spilled nearly 6.8 million gallons of oil in North America between 1999 and 2010.
In Texas, Enbridge has earned its position of diss-tinction among the Terrible 12 as a partner in the proposed deepwater ‘SPOT’ oil export terminal, off the coast of Brazoria County; by building and operating the Rio Bravo pipeline to transport methane gas to the proposed Rio Grande LNG project near Brownsville; and most recently, by closing a $3 billion acquisition of the Moda Ingleside Energy Center, the continent’s largest crude oil export hub near Corpus Christi.
With a long history of trampling on Indigenous lands and rights, Enbridge now faces fervent opposition in Corpus Christi from the Karankawa Kadla Tribe and allies, who have organized protests across Texas to stop the proposed expansion of the company's export terminal onto ancestral lands, where thousands of sacred Karankawa artifacts remain.
Headquartered in Dallas and led by billionaire founder and CEO Kelcy Warren, Energy Transfer is most notorious for its plans to build the Dakota Access Pipeline that brought together tribes, activists and veterans in a historic protest in 2018. Energy Transfer wants to build and operate the Blue Marlin deepwater crude oil export terminal, which would be located 99 miles off the coast of Port Arthur. An offshore port designed to service Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) ships, the terminal would be fed by the proposed Blue Marlin pipeline, originating in Nederland and running through both Bessie Heights Marsh and Sabine Lake.
Energy Transfer has an exceptionally abysmal track record of oil spills and safety violations. In 2018, it was reported that Energy Transfer and its subsidiaries and joint ventures had spilled at least 3.6 million gallons of hazardous materials over a 16-year period. Reuters also reported that Energy Transfer had amassed more than 800 state and federal permit violations. Most recently, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced 48 criminal charges against the company for inappropriately discharging industrial waste in violation of the state’s Clean Streams Law; charges included a felony count for willfully failing to report a spill to the state. In Texas, Energy Transfer is perhaps most well-known for price-gouging “natural” gas during the 2021 winter storm blackouts, earning $2.4 billion in a matter of days. Soon after, CEO Warren gave a $1 million campaign contribution to Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Hmmm.
If built, the Blue Marlin terminal and pipeline would put Jefferson County communities and delicate coastal ecosystems at risk, including sensitive oyster reefs and fisheries. In response, local activists have formed the Save Sabine Lake coalition to stop Energy Transfer’s disastrous proposal.
In partnership with fellow Terrible 12 dishonoree Enbridge, Enterprise Products is behind the proposed deepwater Sea Port Oil Terminal (SPOT), which would be located 35 miles offshore from Surfside Beach. If built, SPOT would be capable of loading VLCC ships with up to 2 million barrels of crude oil per day – an ignominious first of its kind in America.
Headquartered in Houston, Enterprise Products is traded on the NYSE as EPD, and led by co-CEOs Randall Fowler and A.J. “Jim” Teague. The company, which reported 2021 “gross” profit of over $5 billion, owns or operates over 50,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines, and has a long history of pipeline-related incidents, including major spills and explosions. Most recently, a dredging vessel collided with one of Energy Transfer's submerged propane pipelines in the Corpus Christi harbor, resulting in five deaths.
Like Energy Transfer, Enterprise Products also became notorious in Texas for price-gouging its utility customers during last year's Winter Storm Uri, with CPS Energy of San Antonio claiming that the company had inflated its “natural” gas prices by as much as 12,000% during the crisis.
Meanwhile the SPOT project, which also includes 50 miles of new crude oil pipelines, has been and remains the focus of intense opposition from a broad range of environmental advocates and community groups, who continue to protest the potential negative impacts on the climate, air and water quality, coastal ecosystems, and frontline communities.
Freeport LNG is the company behind the facility of the same name, one of the world’s largest liquified methane gas export facilities, located on Quintana Island in Brazoria County. Originally built in 2008 to import and regasify LNG, the site was converted to an export facility in 2019, making Freeport LNG one of the earliest exporters of U.S. methane gas. The company now operates three liquefaction trains capable of producing up to 15 mtpa, and is pursuing the addition of a fourth train to expand its capacity to over 20 mtpa.
Local activists and environmental groups have mobilized to fight Freeport LNG’s proposed expansion, protesting that the company’s plans would devastate almost 60 acres of Brazoria County wetlands, which help to protect coastal communities from flooding and strong winds during major storms. Opponents also point to the potential for destruction of habitat for migratory birds and endangered species.
Residents of Quintana Island and nearby Freeport, where a pre-treatment facility is located, suffer from chronic respiratory and other health problems with suspected links to Freeport LNG, and live with constant noise pollution from facility operations. Despite this, to the chagrin of Brazoria County taxpayers, Freeport has received a range of state and local tax abatements totaling at least $634 million.
Headquartered in Houston, Freeport LNG is led by founder and CEO Michael Smith, who owns more than 60% of the company. Seemingly 100% oblivious to the devastating global consequences of burning fossil fuels, Smith – who recently joined the Forbes list of the 500 richest people in the world – has said of the massive methane gas facility: “It’s my baby.” The horror. The horror.
Founded in 1997 by the former president of Enron, Kinder Morgan is one of the largest fossil fuel infrastructure companies in North America, controlling approximately 85,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines and more than 150 terminals. Kinder Morgan, traded on the NYSE under KMI, reported “gross” profit of $10.1 billion for 2021. The company is headquartered in Houston, and is now led by CEO Steven Keen.
Kinder Morgan earns its spot among the Terrible 12 thanks a truly horrifying record as a pipeline operator. From 2003 to 2016, the company’s pipelines were responsible for 400 incidents in 24 states, including spills, fires, explosions, hospitalizations and fatalities. The company has been cited for placing pipelines too close to “high consequence areas” like schools and parks; failing to test pipeline safety devices; failing to inspect pipelines as required; and failing to maintain necessary emergency response equipment.
In Texas, Kinder Morgan is the company behind the 430-mile Permian Highway “natural” gas pipeline from West Texas to the Gulf Coast. Construction of the pipeline saw several instances of the company contaminating Texans' drinking water with spilled drilling fluid. As if they hadn’t already done enough for their home state, Kinder Morgan joined Energy Transfer and Enterprise Products in profiteering during the 2021 Winter Storm Uri blackouts – while Texans froze, the company jacked up gas prices and walked away with a cool $1 billion profit.
Headquartered in Houston, Max Midstream was launched in 2020 with the goal of transforming the Port of Calhoun near Point Comfort into a major crude oil export hub. The Port of Calhoun has since floated $120 million in bonds to help finance the proposed expansion, which includes a catastrophic plan to dredge deeper shipping lanes through Matagorda Bay, an underwater Superfund site contaminated with mercury. The proposed export hub project could emit over 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
Founded by Houston real estate developer Todd Edwards, Max Midstream and other Texas fossil fuel companies led by Edwards and British financier Azad Cola have been dogged by an onslaught of lawsuits alleging fraud, forgery, nonpayment and breach of contract, including a $38 million suit by the project’s main contractor at the Port of Calhoun.
Max Midstream recently announced the hiring of career fossil fuel executive Jonathan Novitsky as CEO, and the promotion of founder Todd Edwards to Chairman. Hilariously (except that it isn’t at all), Novitsky has since been quoted as saying “Max Midstream is entirely committed to environmental sustainability.”
NextDecade is the developer of the proposed Rio Grande LNG project, planned to occupy 900+ acres along the Brownsville Ship Channel in Cameron County, 10 miles east of Brownsville. If built to full capacity, the massive $15 billion project would produce up to 27 mtpa of liquefied methane gas per year. While a final investment decision (FID) was originally planned for late 2019, the project has been repeatedly delayed. The company is reportedly now targeting the second half of 2022 for the FID on two liquefaction trains capable of producing 11 million tons of LNG per year. The proposed project also includes a 140-mile gas pipeline.
If built, Rio Grande LNG would be the second largest methane gas export terminal in North America, and emit more than 6.4 million tons of greenhouse gases each year. In addition to being the largest polluter in the entire Rio Grande Valley region, the project would also jeopardize the local shrimping and fishing economy, irreparably damage federal wildlife refuges, imperil numerous endangered species, and destroy pristine lands sacred to the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of South Texas. The project’s proposed pipeline would also threaten families along the route with the risk of spills and explosions. The project has faced adamant opposition and legal challenges from local communities.
NextDecade, headquartered in Houston, is publicly traded on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol NEXT. The company is led by CEO and Board Chairman Matt Schatzman, a career fossil fuel executive and member of the National Petroleum Council.
Based in San Diego, Sempra is the company behind the Port Arthur LNG project, an enormous proposed methane gas liquefaction and export terminal in Jefferson County. If fully constructed as proposed, the project would be capable of producing up to 27 mtpa of liquefied methane gas. Sempra is also behind the Cameron LNG facility in Louisiana, and another proposed methane gas export facility in Ensenada, Mexico.
Sempra’s checkered history in California includes being sued over claims that it manipulated gas supplies and electricity contracts during the California electricity crisis. The company ultimately paid $377 million to settle gas supply claims, and another $410 million to settle electricity price gouging claims.
Traded on the New York Stock Exchange as SRE, Sempra reported 2021 “gross” profit of $9.3 billion. Sempra is led by chairman and chief executive officer Jeffrey Martin; the company’s LNG operations in Texas are led by John Sowers.
With headquarters in Richardson and offices in Houston, Sentinel Midstream is the “first-class” (ugh) fossil fuel company behind the proposed Texas Gulflink project. Another deepwater crude oil export terminal designed to service VLCC ships, Texas Gulflink would be located 30 miles offshore from Freeport, and receive crude oil from proposed storage tanks located near Jones Creek via a new 42-mile-long pipeline.
The project has generated opposition both locally and nationally, with more than 27,000 comments submitted to the Biden Administration last year expressing concerns about the potential impact of a crude oil spill. At risk are nearby fragile wetlands, the Brazos River Watershed (a drinking water supply for thousands of people), and the waters of the Gulf itself. The proposed 700,000-barrel storage tanks near Jones Creek will also subject local residents to around-the-clock carcinogenic emissions.
Founded in 2018, Sentinel Midstream is led by CEO Jeff Ballard, CFO Blair Matthews, and COO Brad Ramsey. At a time when the world needs to be phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy sources, Sentinel Midstream and Texas Gulflink would instead drive more demand. Says CEO Ballard: “Texas GulfLink will be a major step forward for U.S. crude oil exports.” And catastrophic climate change. Way to go, Jeff.
Yet another proposed liquid methane gas processing and export terminal, Texas LNG, which would be located on a 625-acre site at the Port of Brownsville, has been in the planning stages for nearly a decade. A project of the New York-based Glenfarne Group and its Houston subsidiary led by CEO Vivek Chandra and COO Langtry Meyer, the facility would feature two liquefaction trains capable of producing 2 mtpa each.
Construction of the Texas LNG project would bulldoze pristine lands near South Padre Island to build pipelines, storage tanks, and flare stacks or ground flares that would pollute nearby communities and irreparably destroy the habitat of the endangered ocelot. Texas LNG would also destroy a federally-recognized indigenous historical site, Garcia Pasture, with burial grounds and village remains that are sacred to the Carrizo Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. The facility would be built about a mile from the City of Port Isabel and near other Laguna Madre communities, which have been actively opposing the project. Opponents have so far successfully challenged some of Texas LNG’s federal permits in court, and persuaded international bank BNP Paribas to withdraw funding for the project.
Glenfarne Group recently announced an agreement with fellow Terrible 12-er Enbridge to deliver over 700 million cubic feet per day of “natural” gas to the proposed Texas LNG facility, for at least 20 years. With Enbridge’s track record of opposing Indigenous community rights, including funding a crackdown on Native American protestors in Minnesota and attempting to expand onto ancestral lands of the Karankawa Kadla Tribe in Corpus Christi, their budding partnership with Texas LNG is a match made in hell.
Trafigura has a “rich” history, having been founded by former partners of Marc Rich, the notorious so-called “King of Oil” who was famously indicated in the U.S. on charges of tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering, and making oil deals with Iran during the Iran hostage crisis. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the company has been named or involved in a broad range of international scandals over its nearly 30-year history, including the catastrophic Ivory Coast toxic waste dump, which killed at least 17 people. Trafigura was also involved in the Iraq oil-for-food scandal, and has alleged ties to the far-reaching “Operation Car Wash” bribery scandal in Brazil involving state-owned oil company Petrobas.
Trafigura earns its spot among the Terrible 12 by virtue of its plan to partner with Phillips 66 to develop the tragically misnamed Bluewater Texas deepwater crude oil export terminal, which would be located 15 miles off the coast of Aransas County. The proposed project consists of over 50 miles of pipelines, a massive onshore tank farm, and an offshore port designed to load VLCC ships at rates of up to 80,000 barrels per hour. The draft air pollution permit would allow Bluewater to emit more smog-forming and cancer-causing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) than any other polluter in the country. In addition to the risk that Bluewater oil spills could irreversibly damage coastal waters and communities, the project’s pipelines would cross Redfish Bay, threatening large seagrass beds that act as a natural carbon sink and also provide critical habitat to aquatic life. All this for a measly 14 permanent jobs!
Trafigura’s Texas operations are run from Houston by former BP Executive Corey Prologo, the company’s Director of Oil Trading for North America.