A group of environmental activist groups Thursday filed a petition in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit for the review of the US Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) decision to license the Sea Port Oil Terminal located off the coast of Texas. The deepwater terminal is projected to expand oil-production in an oil-rich region of Texas known as the Permian Basin. The environmental activist groups said that while oil production would increase, the terminal–which would be largest offshore terminal in the US–threatens “disastrous levels of greenhouse gas pollution.”
Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Water, Turtle Island Restoration Network, the Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity brought the petition against the US Department of Transportation (DOT), MARAD–which is located under the DOT–the US Coast Guard and administrators of each agency. In its initial application, the Sea Port Oil Terminal promised to “provide a safe and reliable long-term supply of crude oil for export to the global market.” Despite that, the environmental activist groups cited public health and environmental concerns over the construction and use of the Sea Port Oil Terminal.
The environmental activist groups filed the petition under Administrative Procedure Act 5 U.S.C. § 702 and Deepwater Port Act 33 U.S.C. § 1516. Both statutes provide that an aggrieved party may seek judicial review in the US Court of Appeals of an agency’s decision within 60 days of the decision. Specifically, the environmental activist groups sought judicial review of the MARAD’s decision to license the Sea Port Oil Terminal for transportation of domestically produced crude oil to the global market. The environmental activist groups alleged that MARAD “failed to adequately assess the devastating oil-spill risk and species harms from [the terminal’s] construction and operation.”
Global supply of oil has been an important topic for the Biden administration since energy disputes arose over the war in Ukraine. In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the G7 and Australia placed a price cap on Russian-origin crude oil and petroleum products. On December 28, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday signed an executive order banning the sale of Russian oil exports for five months to countries that implemented the price cap. US President Joe Biden also signed an executive order in March 2022 banning the import of petroleum products from Russia into the US.
MARAD originally licensed the Sea Port Oil Terminal on November 22, 2022. Transportation of oil is not expected to begin until December 2025.