Case Study: Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program
A Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) for the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (Texas)
Koch Pipeline Company provided the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program (Corpus Christi, TX) with $1.5 million for supplemental environmental projects as part of a settlement with the State of Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice. Koch Pipeline 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 Pipeline agreed to pay a $30 million civil penalty, make a voluntary contribution of $5 million for supplemental environmental projects, and improve its leak-prevention programs.
The Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program was pleased to be allocated $1.5 million during the settlement process. Its selection as a recipient of supplemental environmental project funding was likely a result of the fact that the largest of Koch's spills, a 100,000-gallon oil spill in 1994, caused a twelve-mile slick within the area served by the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program on Nueces and Corpus Christi Bays. Two additional factors may have contributed to the selection of the estuary program as a recipient for these funds. First, the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program has a long history of public involvement, including strong relationships with both industry and state government; the program was well known by both Koch and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Second, all parties to the settlement recognized that the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program could implement habitat restoration projects with very low overhead costs.
The Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program used the supplemental environmental project funds for three land acquisition and habitat protection projects. First, the estuary program worked with The Nature Conservancy of Texas, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the City of Corpus Christi, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve land with high ecological value or development pressure through either acquisition or conservation easements. Second, the estuary program 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. Third, the estuary program, in conjunction with the Texas General Land Office and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, planted smooth cord grass along eroding shorelines to reduce erosion and create marsh habitat. The 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 supplemental environmental project. First, the State of Texas, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Koch Pipeline had to conclude that the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program was a suitable recipient of project funding. As noted above, the program's connection to a 1994 oil spill undoubtedly influenced this decision. However, the program's track record of communication with the business community and successful project implementation likely impacted this decision. Second, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requested that the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program develop a plan for $1.5 million in project funding within one month. The estuary program was able to meet this deadline with a streamlined planning process and many hours of hard work. Finally, the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program had to implement its supplemental environmental projects 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.
For more information on the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, please visit www.cbbep.org.