A Multi-Billion Dollar Plan Aims To Protect Houston’s Heavy Industry From Hurricanes

The government’s preferred plan for better protecting the coast will take billions of dollars, political will and community buy-in, ingredients that aren’t always easy to come by.

When hurricanes hit Texas, the effects ripple out across the country.

That’s because the state accounts for about 30 percent of total U.S. refining capacity, with most of the refineries located on the Gulf Coast. And millions of tons of cargo pass through Houston’s port each year.

A years-long plan to protect all that industry from storms is now moving forward.Over the past couple years, the government has been analyzing different methods for protecting the coast and the possible impacts of those methods. A newly-released environmental analysis lays out the government’s preferred path forward, but it’ll take billions of dollars, political will and community buy-in, ingredients that aren’t always easy to come by.

Head just a few minutes east from downtown Houston’s fancy restaurants and cocktail bars and you’ll find yourself in a gritty, heavily-industrial side of the city filled with refineries and smokestacks. From there, you can watch tugboats push barges up and down the Houston Ship Channel, the region’s economic beating heart. The industry hums along, but it’s all at risk of disastrous flooding, given the right hurricane in the right spot.

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