View:Click here to view the article
Title: ‘A Dream Deferred:' 30 Years of U.S. Environmental Justice in Port Arthur, Texas
Author:Marianne Lavelle

PORT ARTHUR, Tex. - Downtown Port Arthur has the feel of a ghost town, until you look to the horizon.

Boarded-up buildings stand next to vacant lots, like missing teeth in a smile that faded decades ago. There are few people on the sidewalks, and 10 minutes can pass before a single car drives by on Proctor Street, where parades once drew crowds celebrating a float boasting, “Port Arthur Oils The World.”

Looking west, however, the signs of economic life come in the form of billowing steam and toxic fossil fuel emissions rising from stacks of the largest oil refinery in North America. The sprawling Motiva plant - a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco and one of three refineries in Port Arthur - is among dozens of industrial plants in a robust southeast Texas swath of the nation’s Gulf Coast petrochemical hub.

With the United States leading the world in oil and gas production, it’s boom time for the fossil fuel economy in Jefferson County. Local companies are expanding production and building new plants to make plastics, plastic feedstocks and liquified natural gas for export.

But 30 years after President Bill Clinton signed the nation’s first presidential executive order on environmental justice, the economic disparity between billions of dollars of industrial investment along the Gulf Coast and the grinding poverty of mostly Black and brown Port Arthur have renewed calls locally for fairness, equity - and justice.

Clinton’s action on Feb. 11, 1994, was a landmark declaration. For the first time, a president directed all federal agencies to address disproportionate health and environmental effects on minority and low-income populations - and develop a strategy for environmental justice.

But the movement Clinton’s order helped catalyze has struggled without significant federal funding over the three intervening decades. That finally changed under the Biden administration with passage of major infrastructure legislation in 2021 and the...

Date Added:2/12/2024 6:39:46 AM