Hundreds of U.S. energy facilities at risk of flooding

In this photo from Sept. 25, 2005, floodwaters surround storage tanks at an idle oil refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita. Climate Central combed federal weather and disaster data and found that in the next 20 years, hundreds of coastal oil and gas refineries could end up underwater.

Jeremy Hobson: If you take a drive down I-5 here in southern California, you'll come across a big power plant, right next to the ocean. In this case, the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant near San Diego. The problem for plants like that is, sea levels are rising and a new study from the group Climate Central finds America's energy industry is at risk.

From the Marketplace Sustainability desk, Eve Troeh reports.


Eve Troeh: Climate Central used federal weather and disaster data, and found in the next 20 years, hundreds of coastal oil and gas refineries could end up underwater. Maxed out refineries are already driving up prices at the pump, so:

Ben Strauss: A coastal storm surge, aggravated by sea level rise, could take out a refinery. That would only add to the problem.

Ben Strauss studies sea levels for Climate Central. He says it's too late to avoid rising tides.

Strauss: We can make a big difference in the next 50 years or a century. But the next 20 or 30 years are pretty much baked in the cake.

Some companies are restoring wetlands or building sea walls, but few understand the long-term risk. Local governments are trying to act.

Dan Kammen: Local plans and industry plans can start the process.

Dan Kammen studies energy policy at U.C. Berkeley. He says we can diversify our energy supply to rely less on coastal fossil fuels, but:

Kammen: Coordination is needed nationwide, and that requires a federal role.

With politics being what they are right now, no national energy policy seems to be in the works.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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