It is impossible to deny, with any credibility, that climate change is a reality. The evidence is overwhelming. Even if we cut out the carbon immediately, we’ll be dealing with the effects of climate change for years to come. You know it’s bad when even oil companies need to shield themselves from the onslaught.
That’s exactly what an oil refinery in Delaware is doing. You see, this refinery is on the water front. A rise in sea levels is a manifestation of climate change that we can see happening. The sea levels rise and business as usual at the refinery is threatened. What’s a good business person to do? You ask Big Daddy Government for some help.
According to Grist, Delaware is a state that has a program that takes federal grant money and funnels it toward projects designed to protect coastal land against storm surges. Now, seeing its business threatened, this oil refinery has the gall to ask taxpayers to shell out money to protect a business that is contributing to the problem in the first place.
In Delaware, severe storms are eroding the shoreline and affecting homes and businesses up and down the coast – including the business of an oil refinery. The functioning of the Delaware City Refining Company property just south of New Castle, a division of PBF Energy, is threatened by increasing extreme weather. In other words, climate disruption is hitting the doorstep of its source.
The refinery has tried to get help, submitting an application with the Coastal Zone Management Act seeking shoreline protections due to “tidal encroachment” — which is one way of saying sea level rise.
“The extent of the shoreline erosion has reached a point where facility infrastructure is at risk,” says the permit application from the company.
Fascinating. If only someone had warned them. It’s just too bad that the refinery’s proposed plan of action won’t actually do anything to stop rising sea levels. The refinery’s wants to mitigate the effects by providing for the natural accretion of sediment and eliminating wave energy that is eroding the shoreline. However, none of that does anything to stop sea level rise. Delaware could see between a half meter and a meter and a half rise by 2100. Oh, and did I mention that the Delaware City Refining Company deals in tar sands oil, which is basically as carbon intensive as you can get.
Without actual efforts to stop the rise in sea level — not just keeping it at bay temporarily — flooding is going to be a problem for basically every place with a shoreline. According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the rate of flooding is increasing the quickest around the Mid-Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay, Carolina coasts and south Texas. And we’re not talking about small increases, either.
Among 45 locations that NOAA studied on all coasts and Hawaii, Annapolis, Maryland, had a 925 percent increase in annual flooding rates in a comparison of records for 1957-1963 and 2007-2013, while Baltimore’s frequency rose 922 percent. Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Philadelphia increased by 682 percent and 650 percent.
“As relative sea level increases, it no longer takes a strong storm or a hurricane to cause flooding,” said William Sweet, a NOAA oceanographer and the report’s lead author. High tides, along with land subsidence and rising water, are enough to push water to flood stages.
“It’s certainly consistent with what we’ve been saying, and how we will experience sea-level rise,” said Susan Love, a lead planner with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
To summarize: Oil refinery refines an incredibly carbon-intensive product, thus exacerbating climate change. Refinery realizes that the effects of climate change are endangering their business and asks for government assistance. But that assistance only patches the problem and doesn’t address the real, long-term problem ahead of us and would allow the industry to keep feeding fossil fuels into our economy. I don’t know what could possibly go wrong.
Image credit: Thinkstock