Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (TX) Receives a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP)
Koch Petroleum (now Flint Hills Resources) provided the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP) (Corpus Christi, TX) with $1.5 million for supplemental environmental projects (SEP). This funding was part of a settlement with the State of Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice. Koch Petroleum agreed to this settlement after the company had more than 300 spills of crude oil, gasoline and other oil products between 1990 and 1997 in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Alabama.
In the settlement, Koch Petroleum agreed to pay a $30-million civil penalty, make a voluntary contribution of $5 million for SEPs and improve its leak-prevention programs.
The CBBEP was pleased to be allocated $1.5 million during the settlement process. This funding was likely given to CBBP because the largest of Koch's spills, a 100,000-gallon oil spill in 1994, caused a twelve-mile slick within the area served by CBBEP. Two additional factors may have contributed to the selection of CBBEP as a recipient for these funds:
- The CBBEP has a long history of public involvement, including strong relationships with both industry and state government. CBBEP was well known by both Koch Petroleum and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission.
- All parties to the settlement recognized that CBBEP could implement habitat restoration projects with very low overhead costs.
The CBBEP used the SEP funds for three land acquisition and habitat protection projects:
- The CBBEP worked with the following organizations to conserve land with high ecological value or development pressure through acquisition or conservation easements:
- The Nature Conservancy
- The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission
- The City of Corpus Christi
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- The CBBEP partnered with the Texas General Land Office to protect six existing rookery islands and restore approximately six acres of colonial waterbird rookery island habitat in Nueces Bay.
- The CBBEP, in conjunction with the Texas General Land Office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, planted smooth cord grass along eroding shorelines to reduce erosion and create marsh habitat. CBBEP was able to use the $1.5 million SEP to secure an additional $2.5 million in matching funds.
There were three major obstacles to this SEP:
- The State of Texas, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Koch Petroleum had to conclude that CBBEP was a suitable recipient of project funding. As noted above, CBBEP's connection to a 1994 oil spill undoubtedly influenced this decision. However, CBBEP's track record of communication with the business community and successful project implementation likely impacted this decision.
- The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission requested that CBBEP develop a plan for $1.5 million in project funding within one month. CBBEP was able to meet this deadline with a streamlined planning process and many hours of hard work.
- The CBBEP had to implement its SEPs with these resources within 18 months. The time pressure was a particular challenge with land acquisition projects that required negotiation of a purchase price. Therefore, it was essential to have strong partners to meet this deadline.