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A real eye-opening experience…

April 12, 2011 1 comment

This trip has been a remarkable journey through the eyes of another person in learning and acknowledging their daily lifes and struggles in the poor neighborhoods of Port Arthur and eastern Houston.  It greatly exceeded my expectaions that one would only imagine from reading or watching a film of the community’s struggle for a better life in the high concentrated areas of heavy (and dirty) industries.  To be able to talk with Hilton and Parras smack in the middle of their own environments is truly a eye-popping experience that allows for us to take in all the horrible sights, smells, and sounds that was thought to be unbearable to live in.  I cannot imagine myself allowing any of my loved ones to live in such a situation in the future.  Yet, those residents are too poor and working many jobs just to scrap by their daily lives… too busy to give thier time or money towards an united grassroots effort into making the community a cleanier place.  It is difficult for them to reform the political system to work towards the favor of the lower class, especially when there were no (or minimal) zoning laws set in place to prohibit the construction of industries right into the middle of a residential neighborhood.  The industries automatically doesn’t offer their aid in contributing to the community.  They give out minimal amount of money only when they encounter effective resistance.  We saw gas pipes trailing aboveground right across a local playground with the smoke pipes in the background emitting white smoke; the air was full of the sulfur dioxide aromas.  We saw a high school with all kinds of the petroleum industry-owned lines running underground through the school grounds.  We saw massive Valero tanks built right next to a tiny house whose owner refused to move out of his home that has been in the family for countless generations.

It is obvious that this has been a fight that can go on for a decade or more to get any real revolution for the better with cleanier (green) industries.  Those communities cann0t do the fight alone, but with an united front with some outside aid will they start to see some positive outcomes.  We need to be able to do effective and scientific studies/researching that would aid into the reform for a cleanier environment and a stronger enforcement of the Clean Air / Water federal acts.  They do not need only money from funds, but they need to advocate for improvements in their economic sectors that would attract more businesses/industries into the area for s stronger economic stability/sustainability that would eventually aid the community for a better and safer neighborhoods that any parent would feel safe to raise their families in.

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New York Times Editorial: No to a New Tar Sands Pipeline

April 12, 2011 Leave a comment

New York Times Editorial: No to a New Tar Sands Pipeline

The Keystone XL pipeline would bring tar sands oil to the Texas Gulf Coast for refining.  Environmental justice questions are not simply about the impacts on communities near the refining facilities, but this is a pipeline that may have detrimental environmental impacts on communities across North America.  Is Keystone XL too risky?  The question needs to be where and for whom?

Keep moving on…

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

As I thought about these communities I was angered by how the industries seem to not care about all the people that are in their midst. The local governments seem to not actively try and protect these people either, nor provide them with the basic infrastructures that we take for granted here in College Station. Both of these communities where predominantly minority lower class working people, both communities have limited public services (though in the case of East Houston new sidewalks where being built, but I feel that is only due to the gentrification the area is experiencing). Both of these communities defied my opinion of them, they were not deadbeats; they were friendly people that just wanted the same rights to clean air and a nice place to live like the rest of us. I would have liked to have heard from some industry representatives to get their side of the story and find out just why these areas are treated so badly and why there is no reinvestment in the community
(If they would be honest with us, probable not though). I also noticed that both of these areas have hardly any political power within the local governments. To me this situation seemed like it was the single biggest reason as to why these communities are treated so poorly and the industries are allowed to pollute so heavily there.

Again I feel very fortunate to be able to meet with both Juan and Hilton and see the battles that they are fighting. I believe that in the case of East Houston, Juan is fighting a losing battle but I hope for the best. Port Arthur on the other hand already has the law on their side; it is just a matter of ridding ourselves of bad government agencies and corrupt politicians. Visiting with these people showed me just how hard it really is for them to fight against these industries and their own government. The burden of proof seems to be completely upon their shoulders and it really is an uphill struggle. There is such a steep learning curve to get the right kinds of evidence they need that I can see people just giving up, but both Juan and Kelly have the inner drive to move forward and motivate the people around them to strive to keep on struggling. (Anglin)

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