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Environmentalists across Texas ask State and Petrochem, Stop Jeopardizing Vulnerable People

April 21, 2020

On Eve of Historic Earth Day 2020, Texas Petrochemical Industry and State Agencies Refuse to Stand Down from Pollution Policies

Environmentalists – from East to West Texas,  Urban and Rural – call on State Agencies and the Petrochemical Industry, Stop Toxic Emissions and Waste, Stop Jeopardizing Vulnerable Populations during COVID, Climate, & Economic Crises

(AUSTIN)  On the Eve of Earth Day 2020, the Texas petrochemical industry and the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) are allowing the oil and gas industry to release even more harmful toxic emissions and waste. In many locations across Texas, the industry is increasing toxic emissions at this time and further jeopardizing vulnerable communities facing the triple threats of the COVID pandemic, climate change, and economic crises.

“We can no longer continue down the tragic path that has led us to global health, economic, and climate crises,” said Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment Executive Director. “Texas industry and business experts and financial investors, our elected officials and state agencies need to focus on prioritizing essential needs of workers and poor people, and people of color who are being impacted disproportionately. We need to maximize Texas’ powerful clean energy resources to transition to a more equitable, more resilient, and healthier clean economy now. That includes jobs building out distributed solar rooftops across the state, more wind energy, and geothermal power for a cleaner grid, jobs installing more energy efficiency measures in homes and buildings, jobs producing and maintaining electric cars and a more complete network of charging stations at existing gas stations, and the transition to all-electric homes.”

West Texas
This morning, as my Odessa, Texas community experienced another frack quake resulting from years of unregulated injection of harmful chemicals by industry into wells to extract oil from the ground, we were once again reminded of the gross failures of the Texas Railroad Commission to protect workers and communities from the many hazards associated with the fossil fuel industry, “ said Gene Collins, Environmental Justice Chair, Texas NAACP. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shed additional light on how my African American community as well as other vulnerable communities, have had their health compromised from the system of environmental injustice the Texas Railroad Commission should be protecting us from. We need members of the Texas Railroad Commission to work for the entire community and not just to appease industry.”

Gulf Coast & Statewide
“The medical profession has a code of Ethics:  ‘Do no Harm.’ This Code of Ethics should lead and guide all of our actions;  whether you’re in the circle of health care providers or in the gas and oil industry,” said Juan Parras of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services or t.e.j.a.s.  “Fenceline communities should not bear the burden of excess contaminants due to the industries’ unregulated right to pollute. We are victims of a system that cares very little for human health and safety if we allow unregulated pollutants to continue at an accelerated pace.  Environmental justice for all should be enforced and those accountable for violating established rules and regulations should be held accountable.”

East Texas
“The Railroad Commission and this industry are harming communities like mine. We feel railroaded by this industry. We are deeply impacted by pipelines and compressor stations that pollute our air and water,” said Kathy Redman of Resilient Nacogdoches. “The new compressor station two miles away shakes my windows and closer neighbors can’t sleep with all the noise and lights that shine at night. Why isn’t the Railroad Commission doing something to protect the health and well-being of rural Texans?”

North Texas
Last week, Dallas residents were alarmed at their vulnerability when a gas line burst flames through several openings created in the street’s asphalt threatening a potentially more devastating explosion at an Exxon station next to the gas fire.

The Railroad Commission (RRC) this week has so far failed to take action to restrict production during an unprecedented major glut in the oil and gas market.  

Environmental groups last week called on the current RRC Commissioners and candidates in the November election for those seats to:

  1. Restrict production at the most polluting sites; 
  2. Stop dangerous gas flaring in oilfield shale plays across the state; 
  3. Proactively manage the decline of the oil and gas economy and the just transition to a clean economy in Texas.

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