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Where does it all start? Fracking and vinyl chloride production in Texas

To make vinyl chloride, OxyVinyls relies on hazardous extraction and production methods in obtaining its key ingredients: ethylene, made from fracked natural gas, and chlorine gas. The production process drives demand for fracking, releases greenhouse gases, and pollutes communities where factories are located.

The raw materials for vinyl chloride come from the Permian Basin (West Texas and New Mexico), where Occidental Petroleum (the parent company of OxyVinyls) uses hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas liquids. Its processing plants and pipelines deliver gas liquids to Occidental’s petrochemical plants on the Gulf Coast of Texas, where it makes vinyl chloride.58-61, k To make vinyl chloride, factories react chlorine gas with ethylene (made from fracked natural gas) to produce ethylene dichloride. Ethylene dichloride is further processed to create vinyl chloride monomer (VCM).62

The vinyl plastics industry has been expanding in recent years, increasing demand for fracked natural gas. In 2017, OxyVinyls and its partner Orbia opened a $1.5 billion ethane cracker at its Ingleside facility near Corpus Christi63 to convert natural gas liquids into ethylene. OxyVinyls also sources ethylene from crackers owned by others.64, l Orbia consumes vinyl chloride from Ingleside at its PVC plants in Illinois, New Jersey, Mexico, and Colombia.65, m

Vinyl chloride and climate pollution

Besides helping to maintain and increase demand for fracked natural gas, vinyl chloride manufacture pollutes air with toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases. In 2022, OxyVinyls and its joint venture partner, Orbia, ranked as the country’s third and fifth leading sources of vinyl chloride air pollution. Together, Orbia and OxyVinyls’ VCM operations in Texas, Illinois, and New Jersey reported releasing 61,774,974 pounds of vinyl chloride into the air.66 From company reports, EPA calculates they also released 3,339,604 metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2022.67, n

Every U.S. OxyVinyls and Orbia plant in this investigation has been out of compliance with Clean Air, Clean Water, or other federal environmental regulations within the last 18 months.68-70, o See Table 2 below for more details.

Table 2: Vinyl chloride and greenhouse gas pollution from vinyl chloride and PVC factories evaluated in this investigation

Vinyl Chloride and PVC Plants Products Greenhouse Gas Pollution
(Carbon Dioxide Equivalent),
Metric Tons
Vinyl Chloride Air
Pollution, Pounds
Violations Since June 2022
2022 2022
OxyVinyls –
La Porte, TX
Chlorine, vinyl chloride 1,272,875 6,146 Clean Air Act,
Clean Water Act
OxyVinyls –
Ingleside/Gregory, TX
Ethylene, chlorine,
vinyl chloride
1,878,740 12,351 Clean Water Act
OxyVinyls –
Deer Park, TX
Chlorine, vinyl chloride,
PVC resins
133,925 3,800 Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act (RCRA)
Orbia –
Henry, IL
PVC resins 26,344 18,728 Clean Air Act
Orbia –
Pedricktown, NJ
PVC resins 27,720 18,020 Clean Water Act
OxyVinyls –
Pedricktown, NJ
PVC resins Not listed 2,729 Clean Water Act
metric tons

Sources: U.S. EPA Toxics Release Inventory and U.S. EPA Facility Level Information on Greenhouse Gases Tool (FLIGHT) database, and the EPA ECHO Database via

Future expansion of the PVC industry in the U.S.?

Photo of OxyVinyls’ Deer Park / La Porte vinyl chloride chemical manufacturing complex in Texas
Credit: Healthy Gulf c/o

Concerns over PVC production expanding in the U.S. are growing. As a result of a new law preventing the import of vinyl manufactured with forced labor, there are indications that vinyl flooring imports plummeted in 2023. U.S. Customs began detaining vinyl flooring products that weren’t documented free of forced labor from the Xinjiang region of China. Now, companies like AHF are “reshoring” production.71, p Orbia plans to build a new 1.1 million ton vinyl chloride and PVC plant somewhere in the U.S. by the year 2028.72 OxyVinyls is investing $1.1 billion in updating its La Porte operation.73 If government agencies keep approving OxyVinyls’ applications—or worse, approve Orbia’s plans for a giant new PVC factory somewhere in the U.S.— it will result in the continued production of this poison plastic.

Another East Palestine or Paulsboro disaster, or worse, is inevitable, as long as OxyVinyls’ vinyl chloride trains keep rolling to plastics factories to make PVC building materials and other products.

k Natural Gas Annual Respondent Query System (EIA-757 Data through 2017), spreadsheet downloaded from:; and  and and

l “Equistar supplies virtually all of the ethylene requirements (up to 2.55 billion pounds per year) for OxyChem’s chlor-alkali business and OxyVinyls’ business,” according to an Occidental Petroleum annual report (2001).

m and Mexico and Colombia customs records as published in Datamyne (subscription required).

n As measured equivalent to the global warming potential of carbon dioxide and reported in EPA’s Facility Level Information on Greenhouse Gases Tool (FLIGHT) database,

o Facility profiles at Occidental Chemical,; Occidental Petroleum,; and Orbia (formerly named Mexichem),

p See and Built On Repression, an investigation by Sheffield Hallam University and Material Research L3C reveals how flooring sold in the U.S. contains PVC made in facilities controlled by the government of China, in which thousands of Uyghur people worked as forced laborers. An accompanying investigation in The Intercept focused on flooring sold in The Home Depot. Subsequent action by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, under the Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act, led to a nearly 50% decline in vinyl flooring imports from China. By March 2023, according to Material Research’s analysis of U.S. International Trade Commission data. From year-to-year, by March 2023, imports declined 49% from 68 million square meters to 35 million square meters.

(Source: US ITC Dataweb, HTS Code 391810)