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Potential greenhouse gas emissions associated with the deepening of Matagorda Ship Channel

As shown, I estimate that the proposed project at the Port of Calhoun, as envisioned by Max Midstream, will result in a global increase of 19 to 33 million metric tons of CO2e annually from producing and burning oil compared to the situation envisioned in the 2019 EIS. This is equivalent to the annual GHG emissions from about 4 million to 7 million passenger vehicles.

Lastly, one way to evaluate the increase in global GHG emissions associated with the increased oil exports from the Port is to quantify the economic damages that would result from those emissions. This approach, called the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (or, sometimes, Social Cost of Carbon), tallies the costs of greenhouse gas emissions that arise from expected harms, such as human health effects from extreme temperatures and deteriorated air quality, agricultural productivity losses, property damages, biodiversity losses, and many other damages

As shown in the table, using these estimates of the social cost of greenhouse gases yields expected global damages resulting from expanded oil exports at the Port of Calhoun in the range of about $1 billion (for the lower of my emissions estimates and the 3% discount rate case) to about $3 billion (in the higher of my emissions estimates and the 2.5% discount rate case).


Max Midstream is proposing to expand crude oil exports at the Port of Calhoun. The level of exports  envisioned, up to 650,000 barrels per day by 2023, is nearly 10 times higher than the Army Corps of  Engineers envisioned in their 2019 EIS for the project, then under different ownership. As the analysis  above demonstrates, this expanded scope of the project could lead to a rise in Gulf Coast oil production,  with global implications.  

Namely, a previously unforeseen expansion in oil production would put downward pressure on global oil  prices, leading to increased global greenhouse gas emissions from producing and burning oil of around  19 million to 33 million metric tons CO2e. Emissions of this scale would lead to billions of dollars in global  economic damages each year. 

As with any estimate of how global energy markets may respond to a major new infrastructure project,  there is uncertainty in these estimates. Nonetheless, straight-forward methods are available to do the  calculations, and a potential increase in global GHG emissions of this scale should be disclosed.