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The Need

The Need for the Coastal Texas Study

The Texas coastal region, home to one-quarter of the state’s population, plays a major role in the energy security of the entire country.

The state’s ports, intracoastal waterways, recreational activities and tourism all contribute to a robust Texas and national economy.  Texas is the nation’s top state for waterborne commerce with Texas ports representing over $82.8 billion in economic value to the state. More than 522 million tons of cargo pass through Texas ports annually, including machinery, grain, seafood, oil, cars, retail merchandise and military freight. 

Three Texas ports are designated by the Department of Defense as “strategic military ports,” providing 

surface deployment and distribution for strategic military cargo worldwide.  The Port of Beaumont, Port of Port Arthur and the Port of Corpus Christi all serve in the U.S. Maritime Administration’s National Port Readiness Network, supporting deployment of United States military forces during defense emergencies. For example, the Port of Beaumont handles more military cargo than any other port in the United States.

Texas also fuels the nation, with much of this activity taking place around the Houston area, known as the Texas Gulf Coast Refining District.  This coastal infrastructure is critical to our national economy.  Therefore, it is imperative that we provide improved coastal protection measures to ensure our state and nation’s stability for years to come.

Other critical state and national economic generators along the Texas coast include commercial and recreational fishing, and tourism. Commercial fishing has long supported local and state economies. Top commercial species include various shrimp, oysters, blue crab, red snapper and black drum. These marine resources are threatened by pollution, water flow modifications, low dissolved oxygen, invasive species, bycatch and overfishing.

The Gulf Coast’s natural bounty beckons visitors to Texas year after year, keeping the economy strong and creating jobs for both coastal residents and inland workers. Outstanding fishing, birding and waterfowl hunting opportunities, as well as family outings to the beach, make the coast the second most popular tourist destination in Texas.

The Texas coast, however, is subject to coastal erosion, relative sea level rise, coastal storm surge, habitat loss and water quality degradation. These coastal hazards are placing the environmental and economic health of the coast at risk, which negatively impacts the state and national economy. In addition, events such as Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Dolly, cause further ecological and economic devastation to the Texas coast, and emphasize the need for enhanced resiliency of the coast to prevent future damage and loss.