December 15, 2021

Press Contacts:
Lorne Stockman,
Alan Septoff,
Cate Bonacini,

Full Report: Permian fracking boom will bust the climate and intensify environmental injustice

Now fully released, this new report series shows, for the first time, the Permian Basin’s huge global climate impact and environmental justice threat to local communities.

El Paso, TX — Oil Change International, Earthworks, and the Center for International Environmental Law today released the final three chapters of the The Permian Basin Climate Bomb report series, focusing on the petrochemical build-out and plastics pollution, regulatory failure of watchdogs, and stories of families on the frontlines of the Permian Basin.

The six-part series analyzes the climate, public health, economic, and social impacts of the Permian fracking boom. It follows the flow of Permian hydrocarbons from extraction to export, illustrating the community consequences of the associated infrastructure buildout by spotlighting individuals confronting the fossil fuel industry. In doing so, this series links the Permian Basin to environmental injustice and petrochemical expansion on the Gulf Coast.

Read the full Permian Climate Bomb report:

With the release of Chapters 4, 5, and 6 today the full Permain Climate Bomb series has been released. Below are some key findings from the new chapters:

The installment on petrochemicals reveals that at 617 million barrels (bbl), the Permian Basin produced more gas liquids in 2020 than any other country or basin in the world. Permian gas liquids production far surpasses all other producers, including Canada, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Additionally, the clustering of petrochemical facilities has concentrated the toxic burden of Permian plastic production in predominantly Black communities and other communities of color.

The report also reveals the major regulatory agency in the Permian Basin, the Texas Railroad Commission, provides only one inspector for every 1,600 oil and gas facilities. Regulator response time to pollution complaints is measured in weeks and months, instead of hours or days, enabling pollution to continue unabated for weeks or months after the agency has been notified of a complaint.

Lastly, the report juxtaposes the lifestyles of the two million people who call the Permian Basin home, with the roaring gas flares and heavy truck traffic that destroys their infrastructure and poisons their air. For tens of millions more who live along the Gulf Coast and pipeline routes that connect with the Permian, refineries, export terminals, and petrochemical plants proliferate in marginalized communities that have long borne the toxic burden of our dependence on oil and gas.

Read the fourth, fifth, and sixth installments of the Permian Climate Bomb: 

Chapter 4: Petrochemicals (ESPAÑOL)
Chapter 5: Frontlines (ESPAÑOL)
Chapter 6: Regulatory Failure (ESPAÑOL)


“The Permian Basin has, for the past decade, been the site of an oil and gas boom of unprecedented scale. Producers have free rein to pollute and methane is routinely released in vast quantities. Oil exports fuel Permian production growth and today they constitute more than 30% of US oil production. While climate science tells us that we must consume 40% less oil in 2030, Permian producers plan to grow production more than 50%. This must not happen. Gulf Coast communities can no longer bear the brunt of this toxic trade or its climate impacts. Building back better means building back fossil free—starting with the Permian Basin.” — Lorne Stockman, Research Co-Director, Oil Change International

“Unless President Biden defuses the Permian climate bomb exploding in my backyard, we won’t prevent catastrophic climate change or meet our national climate commitments. A ‘code red’ demands emergency action, not business as usual. The President can show he’s serious about climate by declaring a climate emergency, reinstating the crude export ban, enacting the toughest possible rules to cut oil and gas methane pollution, and laying the political groundwork to end new oil and gas production.”  — Miguel Escoto, Earthworks West Texas Field Advocate and El Paso resident

“If the Biden Administration wants to be serious about its promise to demonstrate US climate leadership, it must first clean up its own backyard. The Permian Basin is the single largest fracking basin globally, and the continued reckless pursuit of oil extraction from New Mexico to the Gulf Coast is the ultimate display of hypocrisy. As long as wells are pumping, the United States enables a worsening climate emergency, endangers the health and safety of communities, and contributes to the destruction of ecosystems. The Administration must use all of the tools at its disposal to prevent the next decade in the Permian from being a repeat of the last. At a minimum, that means rejecting permits for new export facilities, petrochemical plants, and other fossil fuel infrastructure.” — Steven Feit, Senior Attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law

“The Permian climate bomb starts with oil and gas wells spewing toxics, including the ones across the street that forced us from our home. Cleaning up the Permian won’t just help the climate, it’ll protect the health of people that live here.” — Fort Davis, Texas resident Sue Franklin

“Gas from the Permian fuels the industrial beast of pollution in the Gulf coast, especially in Port Arthur, TX, my home. The facilities using this gas include the largest refinery in the country; the world’s largest steam cracker, and the explosive expansions in refining, LNG, pipelines, and export facilities. This ‘boom’ has contributed to environmental degradation, significant loss of quality of life, nonattainment air quality, water-borne pollution, and diminished health for my fenceline community. Fracked Permian gas contributes to our significantly higher risk of cancer, heart lung and kidney disease. And then, the storms; give major hurricanes in the last 25 years! Catastrophic flooding and unseasonal weather events, all compounded by the greenhouse gases of the Permian. Port Arthur, and the entire Gulf Coast, has become a sacrifice zone, so America can feed it’s thirst for toxic fossil fuels. We can no longer afford to be the unwitting victim of this exploitation from the use of fracked Permian gas; it needs to end, NOW! and utilize clean, green renewable sources of energy in its stead. We say, ‘Keep it in the Ground’” — John Beard, Port Arthur Community Action Network (PACAN)

Read all six installments of the Permian Climate Bomb: