The Oil Industry in the Gulf of Mexico: A History of Environmental Injustices

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The Oil Industry in the Gulf of Mexico:
A history of Environmental injustices

For a century, the oil industry has been poisoning the Gulf of Mexico and its communities for profit. Oil corporations practices numerous injustices against People of Color communities where it bases its operations, targeting the marginalized, disempowered, and poor to exploit their health, as workers and as residents.

A Report by Southwest Workers’ Union

August 2003

Director’s Notes

President: Nick Charles Vice-President: Jose Zimmerle Secretary: Maria de la Cruz

As Co-Directors of the Southwest Workers’ Union, we are excited to announce the release of “The Oil Industry in the Gulf of Mexico: A History of Environmental Injustices.” This report will bring to light the bi-national situation on the Gulf of Mexico in relation to the oil industry and the impacts on People of Color communities. The report will educate communities, organizers and fellow activists about the lifeline of oil along the Gulf and what that means for the communities living there. The addiction to oil knows no borders and has impacted the communities along the Gulf of Meixco from Campeche, Tabasco, and Tampico, Mexico to Corpus Christi, Houston and Louisiana, U.S. The power of oil has allowed these multinational corporations to go about business as usual. We plan to form convergence of these communities to network and create a unified front to battle these petrochemical corporations. We would like to thank Jill Johnston for her hard work and dedication to making this report possible. We thank the many organizations that we have worked with in relation to Climate Change: Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, Climate Justice Corps, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, Indigenous Environmental Network and CorpWatch. Sincerely, Ché López Co-Director Acknowledgements Research Editor: Jill Johnston
This report was made possible by The Environmental Justice & Climate Change Initiative Climate Justice Corps Program
Southwest Workers' Union P.O. Box 830706 San Antonio TX 78283-0706 Phone: 210-299-2666 Fax: 210-299-4009 Email: [email protected]

Ché López Genaro Rendon L.

Program Developer
Ruben Solis

Genaro Rendon L. Co-Director Southwest Workers’ Union is a grassroots organization, whose mission is to empower grassroots People of Color and other poor communities of low-income workers, community residents and youth, through education, leadership development, training, and direct action organizing in order to have a voice in the decisionmaking process at the local, state and federal levels. SWU strives to build selfsustaining membership-based organizations, and networking to gain the power for social change, achieve a safe environment, sustainable communities and a workplace with living wages, dignity and justice.

Table of Contents
2 2 3 INTRODUCTION Addiction♦ History ♦ Oil & Globalization ♦ Global Climate Change ♦ Justice♦ LIFELINE OF OIL… an overview THE LIFELINE & LEGACY OF THE OIL INDUSTRY Formation ♦ Finding ♦ Extraction ♦ Mercury Pollution ♦ Hydrocarbon pollution ♦ Polynuclear Aromatic Petroleum Storage Tanks Refinement ♦ Oil Refineries & Air Pollution

4 5 5

8 9 11 11 13 13 14 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Hydrocarbons ♦ Heavy Metals ♦ Acid Rain & Salt-water Intrusion Transportation ♦ Shipping

THE OIL REFINING CAPITOL OF THE WORLD The Gulf in Numbers ♦ The Toxic Coast ♦ THE FINAL STAGES Distribution ♦ Smog Power Plants, Cars, & Combustion ♦ ¿Y JUSTICIA?… IN THE SHADOWS OF REFINERIES Texas ♦ Voices from the Grassroots Louisiana ♦ Voices from the Grassroots Mexico’s Gulf States ♦ CLIMATE CHANGE – THE OIL INDUSTRY’S LASTING IMPACT Gulf Coast Region & Climate Change ♦ Heat Waves & Health ♦ Water Resources ♦ Flooding Infectious Diseases ♦ THE TEXAS TWO STEP CONCLUSIONS FINAL THOUGHTS ENDNOTES

population. Almost everyone uses oil or oil-related products Oil and the politics of petroleum in their daily activities. Oil is used to create electricity, continue its all-powerful reign into gasoline, heating oil and the 21st century, at the expense of plastic. Oil is used as lubricants health, the environment, livelihood, for factory machines. Even culture and democracy. For over a most of the food grown in the century the oil industry has been U.S. is cultivated with targeting, exploiting and poisoning chemicals derived from oil. people of color communities for Thirty-seven percent of all profit. The power and economic revenues for Mexico, over $10 growth of the United States is billion dollars a year, come integrally linked to this plentiful from oil extraction in the Gulf supply of cheap oil and protected region.1 Figure 2: Map of the Gulf of Mexico Region through colonialism, free trade agreements and military force. All crude oil extracted or imported must be refined in order to lamps and lubricants, but industry desired a cheaper, more readily The U.S. boasts an abundance of produce the products we use daily, available alternative. At first, cars, lights, industry, air conditioners like heating oil and gasoline. The workers dug for oil, but soon realized and roads - the benchmarks of refining hub of the U.S. is states that drilling for oil was the way to modernity. But what does this bordering the Gulf of Mexico, go. Oil was first struck by drilling in mean for communities near and particularly Eastern Texas and workers in the petrochemical Southern Louisiana, regions plagued Pennsylvania in 1859. Forty-two years later, in 1901, an oil discovery in industry? Who are these with extremely unhealthy air Beaumont, Texas transformed the communities that have been quality. Over 13% of all the world’s Gulf States of Texas, Louisiana, overrun for profit? And who pays crude oil is processed through these for the multi-billion dollar revenue refineries, about 9 million barrels per Alabama and Mississippi. Shortly there after the first crude oil refinery of the oil industry? This report day in order to supply our oil was built nearby in Port Arthur. In intends to examine the costs of the addiction. The largest supplier to oil industry in terms of environment, these refineries is Mexico. The profit less than a year, there were 300 oil wells and 600 oil companies health and justice, in one of its hubs, from this addiction has prompted operating in Texas. the bi-national region around the the oil industry to consume the Gulf of Mexico. coastal areas of the Oil is a natural resource, which Gulf of Mexico at Addiction means it is formed naturally, not by the expense of its people, particularly humans. Oil is also nonrenewable, It should come as which means that once it is people of color, as no surprise that extracted, it will not be replaced. well as health, the United Rampant over-drilling in one area livelihood and States has an perpetuated greed-driven searches culture. addiction to for more oil reservoirs. Many of the fossil fuels: oil, old wells from the 19th and early 20th History coal and natural century have been depleted. Today gas. Forty From the advent of a few powerful multinational percent of all corporations control most of the manifest destiny energy domestic oil production in the Gulf and the California consumed in the states. gold rush of the U.S. is from oil, 1840s, a new rush to The rush for oil brought two which represents ‘get rich quick’ American men to Veracruz, Mexico one-quarter of emerged in the on the Gulf of Mexico, where they the world’s eastern United struck oil in 1901. Rampant yearly oil States for ‘black Figure 1: One of 57 polluting production for gold’ or oil. At that exploration by companies continued refineries along the Gulf Coast that only 4% of the are disproportionately located in time, whale oil was until an act by President Cardenas in 1938 nationalized the oil industry People of Color communities. world’s used as fuel for


into Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex). The discovery of new oil reservoirs in southern Mexico in the 1970s, and the OPEC oil embargo, initiated the rapid expansion and growth of the industry, throughout the traditional land of the indigenous and campesinos. The stagnant prices of the 1980s led to a boost in production in order to increase revenues for the government and pay external debts, at the expense of communities, health and the environment.

extraction, which inevitably leads to a relationship of dependence and inescapably undermines human rights, justice, democracy. Fossil fuels remain the lifeline of globalization, an economic-rooted trend to extend the power and profits of multinational corporations at the expense of communities, workers, human rights, justice and the environment.2

waves, increases in disease-carrying insects, increases in frequency of hurricanes and floods, changes in water supply and loss of food security. Communities exploited by the oil industry already endure multiple health stresses only to be intensified by climate change.


The oil industry has created countless victims in the expropriation of power and profit. It practices numerous If human rights violations, injustices against communities where The Mexican government and militarization and environmental it bases its operations, targeting the economy is dependent on the devastation during extraction and marginalized, disempowered and exploitation of natural resources in compromised worker safety, poor to exploit their health, as order to meet interest payments on pollution and cancer where oil is workers and as residents. These external debts, and thus, in the refined are not enough, the communities, people of color in the globalized economy, must extract extraction and consumption of fossil U.S., and indígenas and campesinos and export oil in order to avoid fuels are also the cause of global in Mexico, have historically been financial crisis. The earlier dreams of climate instability which threatens ignored by state and governmental prestige, power and first world life on this planet now and for agencies, who consistently place membership from ownership of oil generations to come. Climate profits of corporations and national resources have yet to be realized. change refers to the warming of the interest over the well-being of planet, due largely to burning fossil residents. Furthermore, residents Oil & Globalization fuels, which could cause crop failures, have been intentionally famines, flooding, health issues, misinformed, and have lacked any The abundant and steady supply of along with many environmental, type of real decision-making or cheap oil is integrally linked to economic and social problems.3 enforcement power. industrialization and rapid economic The poorest people and people of growth of the United States. Oil With the recognition of the injustices color are not only impacted by the companies control the extraction, practiced by this industry, the report daily operations of the oil industry, transportation, refinement and proceeds to look at the lifeline of oil but have been hit first and will distribution of oil and continue to and the consequences for the continue to be impacted hardest by communities around the Gulf of expand their profit-driven climate change. The Gulf coast is operations without respect for Mexico. particularly vulnerable to heat human rights or national sovereignty. Oil is the fuel for transportation, industry and mechanized agriculture and is protected through military repression and regional wars. Multinational oil industries have a vested interest in extending the current free trade regime as to ensure not only an endless market but also the freedom to further develop the oil industry worldwide, without accountability.

Global Climate Change

The global economy, led by the industrialized countries and corporations, offers incentives for nations that focus on resource

Figure 3: Basketball Court across from Marathon Refinery, Port Arthur, TX

LIFELINE OF OIL… an overview
1. Formation -- Oil is a
fossil fuel that is formed over millions of years from dead organisms. Oil is a natural resource and is nonrenewable.

Human Impacts:

Toxic pollution in fish and plants Gastrointestinal illnesses Leukemia Cancers Heart and respiratory disease Asthma Deaths and injuries from explosions Air, water and soil pollution Destruction of fishing grounds and wetlands Pollution and salinization of farmland

2. Extraction -- oil rigs are
used to ‘pump’ oil out of the ground, on land and offshore. There are 4,000 oil platforms in the Gulf and thousands more on land. Oil extraction has severely jeopardized the environment of the Gulf, waterways, fish, soil, and air, as well as the health and livelihood of the coastal communities.

The primary oil-extraction region of Mexico is inhabited by many descendants of Maya, Olmeca, and Chole indigenous communities who have had to give up farming, fishing and traditions because of the impacts of the oil industry.

3. Transportation -networks to link the oil producing regions to coastal refineries. There are over 27,569 miles of pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico more than 250,000 miles of pipelines in Texas in addition to 12 major ports. Impacts: Oil spills and leaks Explosions Air, Soil and water pollution

transport refined oil from communities to gas stations, power plants, etc. Diesel engines emit more than 40 toxic substances. This pollution causes tissue damage, asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease and cancer.

5. Diesel Trucks --


4. Refinement -- The Gulf Coast has the highest
concentration of refining capacity in the world. There are 60 refineries in the region that process over 11 billion barrels per day, at least 26 in the U.S. are not in compliance with environmental laws. These toxic air pollutants are breathed by millions of Refineries & Health: Communities near refineries suffer residents everyday. Poor people of color are from cancer, heart disease, asthma, burdened most heavily. In most cases, no buffer respiratory ailments, mercury and zone exists between refineries and houses, heavy metal poisoning, explosions, schools, parks, etc. central nervous system disorders, etc. Impact of Climate Change Along the Gulf Coast: More heat waves Rising sea level & flooding Increases in outbreaks of tropical disease Changes in water supply Loss of commercial fish & seafood Decrease in agricultural production Increase in tropical storms Increase levels of air pollution & smog Erosion of beaches & wetlands

6. Power plants, Cars, etc. – Near the end of the lifeline is electricity and gasoline used daily by Americans. Both contribute to smog and are linked to asthma, respiratory ailments, acid rain, and heart disease.

7. Climate Change – Every step of this process emits greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide pollution that will have lasting global impacts for generations. Climate Change refers to the warming of the planet, largely due to the extraction and burning of oil and fossil fuels that could induce crop failure, famines, flooding, health issues and many other environmental, economic and social problems.

Climate Justice – Communities of color are more likely to be burdened with poor air quality and thus even more vulnerable to climate change related ailments, heat-related deaths, and illnesses from insect-carried diseases. Low-income families are less able to adapt to the increase frequency of floods, droughts and fires, and will have to spend more money on basic needs.


estimates the size of the reservoir offshore oil production. Texas is the and whether oil extraction is number one oil-producing state and Formation ‘commercially viable,’ i.e. profitable. Louisiana is forth. In the United States, oil is a private The basis of oil is organic carbon, industry, and is owned by wealthy which is also the basis of all life. Portrait of Chevron individuals and corporations, When aquatic plants and animals in the Gulf: die, their remains sink to the bottom however they are offered (1956-1995) extensive subsidies (corporate of the sea. Over millions of years, welfare) by federal and state animal remains are covered by governments. In Mexico, however, Chevron’s offshore oil rigs have had: layers of sediments and exposed to At least 15 blowouts extreme pressure and temperatures. the oil company, Petróleos At least 65 fires and explosions Mexicanos (Pemex) is Under certain conditions, these 14 “significant pollution incidents” 40 “major accidents” remains are metamorphosized into nationalized, meaning the 19 fatalities liquid hydrocarbons, or oil. Coal and government owns and controls the company. As written in Article 27 5 pipeline breaks, in addition to an natural gas are formed in similar of the Mexican constitution, incident in 1998 that leaked 3,000 manners. Slight variations in Pemex also owns all the country’s gallons of oil into the Gulf temperature and pressure conditions subsurface (underground) determine whether the hydrocarbon will be solid (coal), liquid (oil), or gas resources. This power of eminent In Mexico, the oil fields cover the domain allows Pemex to freely (natural gas). states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, practice numerous abuses against Tabasco and Campeche, as well as farmers, ranchers and indigenous Since the origin of coal, oil and the Campeche Bay, which is natural gas is the skeletons and shells people. responsible for over 75% of Mexico’s of dead marine organisms, they are oil production. In the second most Extraction collectively productive oil state in the Gulf, called fossil Tabasco, there are over 3,500 wells After a site has fuels. Today, drilled on land, about 1,200 that are been identified, oil is found in oil rigs are used to still operating. The state of Veracruz reservoirs of ‘pump’ oil out of is home 5to 2,500 oil wells on 112 sedimentary oilfields. Oil extraction in the Gulf of the ground in a rock, a type Mexico and the coastal states has manner similar to of rock that severely jeopardized the pumping water. was formed environment of the Gulf, including The pump is in lakes, seas, waterways, fish, soil, and air, in powered by gas and oceans. addition to the health and livelihood or electricity, Tiny pores in Figure 4: 4,000 offshore oil rigs, like this of coastal and indigenous usually derived one, cover the coastline of the Gulf. the rock communities. from energy allowed the generated by fossil fuel power oil to seep in, and now, the rocks The mere process of installing the plants. As more and more oil is hold the oil like a sponge. Other extracted from the well, the process necessary infrastructure to rock layers from a blockage that of pumping becomes more difficult. undertake oil extraction causes does not allow the passage of oil. Then, water may be taken from the significant disruption to the area. local aquifer to displace oil and force The roads, canals, and ports needed Finding to support this infrastructure destroy it to the surface. homes, farms, wetlands, waterways A process that started millions of Oil rigs are set up both on land and and fishing grounds. years ago traps oil underground. offshore. There are 4,000 oil Today humans use science and Mercury Pollution technology to estimate the locations platforms on the outer continental of oil reserves. It involves a series of shelf of the Gulf of Mexico, which The Environmental Protection complex and costly steps to identify forms the largest artificial reef Agency (EPA) identifies mercury 4 a potential reserve. First, a potential structure in the world. Platforms and heavy metal contamination in site is identified, the rock tested and can vary in depth from a few meters the Gulf as one of the primary to over 400 meters. Oil installations

THE LIFELINE & LEGACY OF a test-well drilled. If oil is struck, the in the United States’ portion of the corporation and/or government Gulf accounts for 73% of the nation’s THE OIL INDUSTRY

traditional culture of many communities, and caused a source of livelihood and 10 nutrition to become a 8 source poison. The human nervous system is very 6 sensitive to all forms of 4 mercury. Methylmercury reaches the brain and can 2 result in permanent 0 Oil rigs use mercurydamage to the brain, Safe Levels Actual Levels laden material when kidneys, and developing drilling. The mud fetus. Symptoms may used for drilling is include irritability, shyness, composed of the tremors, change in vision or biomagnification. Since the clay barite, which is naturally high in platforms not only attract large fish, hearing and memory problems.11 elemental (inorganic) mercury levels. but millions of tiny marine Hydrocarbon Pollution While normally this mercury would organisms, some of which convert be ‘locked’ in the ground sediments, element mercury through a natural While hydrocarbons, i.e. oil, are the drilling process, and mechanism. These tiny organisms formed through a natural process, consequential disruption, has are consumed by slightly larger resulted in hundreds of thousands of marine life, process that continues up they are generally contained pounds of mercury being released the food chain. Since one larger fish between layers of non-porous rock and not exposed to surface land or into the Gulf over the past 30 years. eats many smaller fish, the levels of water. The extraction process, The platforms are the center of pollution in the larger fish will be however, is known for its dangerous islands of mercury pollution that is greater than the levels in each accidents, such as explosions, leaks, highest in a 195-meter radius. individual smaller fish. Currently, mercury levels are Health Impacts in Areas with between 4 – 8 ppm (parts per Thus, by this process, many fish that million) that is up to 12 times Petroleum Installations: humans consume, which are high on allowed (considered “safe”) levels by the food chain, contain elevated Gastrointestinal illnesses the EPA. Mercury levels have shown levels of methylmercury. Studies Leukemia, particularly infantile to stay high for 12 years after indicate that several samples of fish, leukemia abandonment of the oil-drilling site.7 such as amberjack, ling and redfish, Toxic contamination of fish contain levels of methylmercury that and plants The consequences extend beyond exceed the threshold at which Heart disease simply contamination of the Gulf human consumption advisories Respiratory disease 10 waters. The oil platforms form an require. Drinking water contamination artificial reef, which acts as a fishPollution & salinization of attracting oasis. High fish density The fish-consuming coastal farmland (concentration) is found up to 50 populations along the Gulf test Deaths & injuries from meters from each platform.8 positive for dangerous levels of explosions Densities may be 5 to 50 times mercury (up to 11 times the ‘safe’ higher in the adjacent to the limit of 1 ppm) in hair samples. spills and accidental discharges. platforms than 50 meters away.9 Currently there is no systematic Hydrocarbons do not dissolve in The high concentration of fish, many effort to test fish or residents for safe water, thus the particles form layers which are commercial varieties, is levels of mercury. over soil and in water that are very located well within the ring of difficult to remove. The frequency of mercury pollution. This contamination accidents not only severely disproportionately affects compromises workers’ This scenario provides ideal communities dependent on fish and health and safety, but also conditions for the conversion of shellfish for protein, including many compromises the local environment elemental mercury to indigenous communities and local and community health. There have methylmercury, a dangerous fisherfolk. The oil industry has been over 200 deaths and cripplings neurotoxin, through the process of undermined the economic base and of workers on oil wells in Tabasco
Chart 1. Mercury Levels in the Gulf of Mexico
Levels of Mercury in parts per million

environmental concerns.6 These elevated levels of pollution in the outer continental shelf can be traced back to the offshore oil extraction processes.


alone, while this state’s petroleum installations average over 100 spills and leaks a month.12

Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons cause severe health-related

A particular toxic group of hydrocarbons is the polynuclear A report detailed by OilWatch aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), that Mexico notes that frequent accidents are released onto land and into the by Pemex will Gulf through accidents Pemex Drilling Activities and spills. PAHs are continue: in 1998 caused: “While the central hazardous toxins with 28 serious accidents objective of Pemex well-documented 17 deaths continues being to carcinogenic and 20 serious injuries extract the mutagenic properties, 4,000 residents to be maximum possible and are linked to evacuated amount of stomach, lung and petroleum at any skin cancer as well as cost; while they continue to force to birth defects. Studies in the more oil infrastructure than what is Campeche Bay area reveal highly technically reasonable… while there elevated PAHs levels in the tissues of does not exist true political norms of oysters, even in the declared industrial safety… these cases [of protected zone where the oysters are accidents, explosions, and deaths] routinely farmed for human will continue to happen.” 13 consumption. The local populations are also highly dependent on this Accidents, leaks and spills from region as a nursery and feeding area pipelines, ships and refineries also for various fish, shrimp and oyster contribute to the problem of species. The bioaccumulation of hydrocarbon contamination. PAHs is also apparent in fish and Studies in Tabasco show that oil-related pollution in topsoil is 120-180 ppm (part per million) while accepted “safe levels” are between 0.5-1 ppm. The Tonala River zone, primarily inhabited by Chontal peoples, is registered as one of the most contaminated sites in the world, measuring levels of more than 2000 ppm of oil pollution in the soil. This poor, Figure 5: The once fertile fishing ground of Campeche Bay, Mexico is now poisoned with marginalized community has mercury, lead and hydrocarbon contamination additionally been the dumping ground of waste from the oil industry, Pemex, who has exhibited seafood. The consequences have been toxic food sources and severe a blatant disregard for the peoples loss of marine life and major in this small region with over 67 15 major reported oil spills. In Tabasco depletion of local food resources. alone approximately 800 hectares Heavy Metals (9800 acres) of ejido (communal land) and smallholder land has been Crude oil is not purely hydrocarbons destroyed by hydrocarbon residues. (that is composed only of hydrogen and carbon) but is rather an impure It is estimated in the region of mixture with inorganic components, Nocajuca, the impacts of the oil industry has caused a 60% decrease including trace heavy metals. Human exposure to minute in agricultural production.14 concentrations of heavy metals can

problems, particularly cancer. Iron, zinc, nickel and vanadium compose the majority of the heavy metals found in crude oil. Upon extraction of oil and accidental deposition on surface sediments, bacterial-based processes reincorporate the heavy metals into the soil and thus can pollute the soil. Such soil contamination can cause a bioaccumulation of heavy metal pollution in crops grown in oilproducing regions. Food sources such as vegetables, grains, fruits, fish and shellfish can become contaminated by accumulating metals from surrounding soil and water.16

Heavy metals cause serious health effects, including reduced growth and development, cancer, organ damage, nervous system damage, and in extreme cases, death. Metals are particularly toxic to the developing systems of a fetus, infants and young children. Childhood exposure to metals can result in learning difficulties, memory impairment, damage to the nervous system and behavioral problems such as aggressiveness and hyperactivity.17

Acid Rain & Salt-Water Intrusion
The oil industry and oil products moreover are the main source of the precursory compounds that cause acid rain. Seventy-five percent of the rain in the southern Mexican Gulf region is found to be highly acidic which leads to acid deposition in the soil and waterways. Acid rain contributes to various respiratory problems such as asthma, as well as the depletion of nutrients from soil and death of marine life.18 The extraction of oil in coastal regions furthermore disrupts and contaminates the drinking water supply. As oil is extracted from the ground, it leaves a void and creates a vacuum that ‘sucks’ in salt water, which is often also


contaminated with both hydrocarbons and heavy metals. Consequently, contaminated salt water enters domestic drinking wells and aquifers. The intrusion of saltwater furthermore causes the salinization of agricultural land, rendering the area infertile to crop production. Local food resources that nourish local subsistence farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous communities in the oil-producing Mexican Gulf states continue to be severely depleted and poisoned with unsafe levels of heavy metals and hydrocarbons.

central points for further shipment. The primary means of transport are pipelines and ships. There is an extensive network of pipelines through the Gulf Coast used to transport both crude and refined oil: 27,569 miles of pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico More than 250,000 miles of pipelines in Texas (1/6 of all U.S. pipelines) More than 3,450 miles of pipelines in Louisiana just for crude oil20 Pipelines, particularly older pipelines, are prone to accidents and spills. In 1992, more than half of the oil spilled in the United States - 52.5%came from pipelines. It is expected that long pipelines (1,000 miles or more) will experience a reportable (i.e. significant) accident every year. In Texas, between 1984 and 1999, there were 1,654 accidents, Source: Davenport, Christian. American-Statesman which killed 46, injured 339 and caused Shipping nearly $138 million in damage.21 Oil spills can occur far away from the actual source, and thus, further extends the number of communities and ecosystems impacted by the oil industry. Refer to the section above for the human and environmental impacts of hydrocarbon contamination from oil spills.

Oil installations never occur in isolation, but require an extensive network of intricate infrastructure to support the process. In Tabasco, a state of less than 2 million people, the 3,588 wells drilled (1,013 operating) require numerous artificial canals, numerous platforms and trans-shipment stations, 6,840 miles of pipelines terminating at the port of Dos Bocas, and three petrochemical complexes.19 The oil recovered from the ground is crude oil, which must be transported to refineries to produce consumable products. Production wells are then installed and pipelines are assembled to transport the oil to

(16 April 2000). Austin

Figure 6: Warning signs for pipelines cover communities near oil installations

The Gulf itself is one of the world's most concentrated ocean shipping areas. Major port facilities are required to accommodate the oil barges that come to land. Ports consume a vast area and, typically, are highly protected and militarized. Sixty-nine percent of shipping tonnage that passes through the Gulf ports and harbors are petroleum and chemical products.22 In the Gulf Coast region, there are several major ports that include:


Dos Bocas, Tabasco Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz Veracruz, Veracruz Tampico, Tamaulipas Corpus Christi, TX Beaumont, TX Houston, TX Port Arthur, TX Baton Rouge, Louisiana New Orleans, Louisiana Mobile, Alabama Gulf Port, Mississippi

Figure 7: Oil Barge that arrive daily at the Public Port of Port Arthur, TX to deliver millions of gallons of crude oil

Eight-five percent of the crude oil extracted in Mexico (about 3 million barrels a day) is transported to the U.S. Gulf states for refining. While Mexico is the biggest supplier to the Gulf ports, significant amounts of crude oil also arrives from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela.23 Since barges carry such vast quantities of oil, spills from oil tankers have devastating and longlasting effects on the Gulf and the coastal areas.

environmental and safety practices lead to new oil spills, and thus, widespread contamination of soil, water and air. Groundwater contamination is quite common. Pollutants often reach drinking water, polluting wells and aquifers, and include the carcinogens benzene and toluene. Water runoff from storms can carry petroleum products, cause erosion and harm to nearby land and water. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality states that as of February 2003, the agency had been notified of 23,237 leaking petroleum storage tanks. Of this total, 8,508 were confirmed to have affected groundwater.24 These numbers merely reflect voluntarily reported data. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that nearly one out of every four storage tanks in the United States may be leaking.

Contaminated drinking water and toxic fumes from petroleum compounds can cause headaches, nausea, respiratory problems and various cancers. Contaminated groundwater can lead to contaminated air, which also can cause serious health problems, especially in children, the elderly and those with existing respiratory ailments. In addition, tank farms are prone to toxic accidents such as major spills, fires and explosions. Toxic fumes resulting from large tank spills are also associated with health problems, including chronic respiratory problems.25

Ships and pipelines carry the crude oil extracted from the ground to refineries in order to process the oil into useable forms like gasoline, heating oil and industrial chemicals. A typical refinery consists of a huge complex of many industrial facilities that refines and processes crude oil. Refinement generally occurs in a huge petrochemical industrial park that not only refines the oil, but processes bi-products into various chemicals needed for fertilizers, plastics, asphalt, etc. A typical refinery costs billions of dollars to build and millions more to maintain and upgrade. It runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, may occupy several

Figure 8: Oil storage tanks in the backyard of homes, Corpus Christi, TX

Petroleum Storage Tanks
Situated in refinery complexes in massive groups of 10 to 50 or more are tank farms. Each large tank holds hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil and refined products like gasoline, kerosene and diesel fuel. Almost all refinery tank farms are located in residential communities, on the other side of a road or fence from houses, parks and schools. There are few regulations or inspections of such storage tanks despite the hazards they pose to communities and health. Poor

Figure 9: ExxonMobil's Tank Farm contaminating the drinking water and releasing toxic fumes on the community of Baytown, TX

Three basic steps in refining operations:
1. Separation – crude oil is separated into its various chemical components via a complex heating process. The oil is run through an extensive network of pipes that differentiates the components by weight. The lightest product, gasoline, is recovered at the lowest temperatures, then the jet fuels and heating oils, and finally the heaviest products like residual fuel oil recovered at the highest temperatures, often above 1000º F. Tall columns release vapors, gases, and pollutants into the air. 2. Conversion – components are broken down and purified into ‘light’ hydrocarbon molecules. Inside huge bullet-shaped, thickwalled containers called reactors, heat and temperature is applied to further refine the oil in a process called “cracking.” 3. Treatment – Chemicals, called additives, are combined with the hydrocarbon molecules in specific blends to produce various grades of fuels, octane levels, and vapor pressure ratings.

hundred football-sized fields and can employ as many as 2,000 workers. These industrial complexes are located in neighborhoods, often engulfing and surrounding entire communities. The placement of refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast happened before the civil rights or environmental movement. Oil companies targeted marginalized and powerless communities (poor people of color), with government complacency, to site these toxic and deadly industries.

indicate that levels of organic toxins around a refinery are 4 to 20 times higher than air in a suburban area without refineries.26 Refineries in the United States are the single largest stationary source of VOCs.27 Not surprising, the areas of the United States that are out of compliance with air quality standards often coincide with concentrated “toxic hot spots” of oil refineries, in particular the Gulf States. Refineries are the fourth largest source of toxic emissions reported to the EPA, though significant In very general terms, the process of amounts of toxic refining compromises the health of emissions go the employees by exposure to unreported.28 In petroleum products (hydrocarbons), Mexico, the solvents (toxic chemicals that dissolve government substances), treatment chemicals, environmental metals, silica/asbestos, noise, high agency, PROFEPA, temperatures and PCBs called the oil (polychlorinated biphenyls). The company, Pemex, surrounding community is exposed and its refineries the to petroleum products, solvents, dirtiest air polluter heavy metals, toxic air pollution, in Mexico.29 The smog and noise. These daily hazards area between do not account for explosions, spills Minatitlan and and other accidents. Coatzocoalcos suffers from severe Oil Refineries & Air Pollution air pollution. Additionally, in Much of the toxic emissions from terms of refineries are volatile organic atmospheric compounds (VOCs), a category of emissions, oil pollutants that includes smog and Figure 10: Lyondell-Citgo Refinery in Houston, TX refineries in the ozone compounds, as well as many releases over 700,000 pounds of pollutants a year United States are carcinogens and neurotoxins. Studies the:30

1st largest industrial source of benzene, a carcinogen 2nd largest industrial source of xylenes which depress the central nervous system, damage kidneys and respiratory system, and methyl ethyl ketone 2nd largest industrial source of sulfur dioxide emissions, which contributes to respiratory ailments and acid rain 3rd largest industrial source of toluene, a carcinogen 3rd largest industrial source of nitric oxides (NOx), a precursor to smog and acid rain 4th largest industrial source of primary particulate matter emissions, linked to tissue damage, asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and cancer Significant source of ethylbenzene, 2,2,4trimethylpentane, hexane, cresols, MTBE, mapthlene, and phenol, many which are carcinogens


Significant source of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that cause climate change31 Lack of knowledge about the total combined human health impacts of daily exposure to such a harmful array of toxins in assorted mixtures has created a dangerous experiment occurring everyday to communities, schoolchildren and the refinery workers.

Health Effects from Exposure to Air Toxins: Genetic damage that can then lead to birth defects and cancer Damage to nervous, blood, endocrine, immune or other bodily systems Disruption of neural or reproductive development Disruption of cellular processes Respiratory illnesses

county with at least one refinery.35 Over 12 million people in Mexico live in the four primary oil producing and refining states. While Mexico is primarily an oil extraction state, the Gulf region is home to 6 operating refineries that process 1.525 million b/d. Number of Oil Refineries Texas Louisiana Mississippi Alabama Mexico Total: 27 17 4 3 6 57

THE OIL REFINING CAPITOL fuel) and to the Midwest (supplying more than 20 percent of the region's OF THE WORLD 32
light product consumption). The Gulf Coast is by far the leader in refining capacity, with more than twice the crude oil distillation capacity as any other United States region. The region acts as a global hub for multinational oil corporations to operate and pollute. Oil is refined from Mexico, Venezuela, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Nigeria among others. The Gulf Coast has the highest concentration of sophisticated facilities in the world. Refined products from the Gulf are shipped both to the East Coast (supplying more than half of that region's needs for light products like gasoline, heating oil, diesel, and jet

The Gulf in Numbers

There are 51 refineries operating in the Gulf States out of a total 143 in the United States, in addition to 6 in Mexico. Almost half of the large facilities (refine more than 50,000 barrels per day) in the U.S. are located in the Gulf, super concentrated in eastern Texas and southern Louisiana. The Gulf state refineries have the capacity to process 9.05 million barrels per day (b/d), approximately 60% of U.S. refining capacity of 16.5 million barrels per day.33 At least 26 refineries are in noncompliance with EPA standards, 15 of which are located in communities • Oil Refinery of color.34 6.5 A Oil-Extraction million Texans Region Figure 11: Oil-Producing Regions and Refineries in the Gulf of live in county Mexico with at least one refinery, in other words, almost onethird of the state’s population. Similarly, about 30% of Louisianans Figure 11: An approximate distribution of the Oil-Extraction live in a Regions and Refineries along the Gulf of Mexico

The Toxic Coast
All industries in the United States are required to report their environmental impact by recording emissions to air, water and soil. The EPA maintains a database of this information called the toxic release inventory (TRI), which is equivalent to the number of pounds per year of various “regulated” chemicals that are released as air emissions, surface water discharges, underground injections, and releases to land. The data includes over 650 chemicals, which are chemicals that, in certain quantities, have the potential to cause harmful human health impacts. The data also includes toxic pollutants, which are chemicals known to have the potential to cause serious adverse health effects, such as cancer, neurotoxicity or reproductive toxicity. The TRI for all oil refineries (including the attached petrochemical complexes) in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi is 37.5 million pounds a year, of which at least 2.5 million are known carcinogens. Millions of pounds are pumped into the air above


Chart 2. Refining Capacity in Millions of Barrels Per Day
7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Lo ui si an a Te xa s C al ifo rn ia Ill in oi s yl va ni a M ex ic o Je rs ey to n

Pe nn s

W as hi ng

neighborhoods, parks and schools.36 These numbers fail to include petrochemical industries not operated by the refineries. While the Mexican government does not maintain a comparable database, it is reasonable to estimate that because Mexico’s capacity is 17% of the U.S Gulf states, the refineries emit at least 17% of the Gulf States, or 6,322,897 lb./year. However, this number is likely to be higher because there are even fewer regulations or accountability. Texas and Louisiana are number one and two, respectively, in the nation in emitters of developmental and neurological toxins, which, among many effects, disrupts the normal childhood development processes.37 These numbers only begin to explain the story of the toxic pollution along the Gulf Coast. Studies reveal that oil refineries consistently vastly underreport leaks from values and pipes to federal and state regulators. Fugitive emissions come from equipment leaks (like valves, storage tanks, seals, connectors, pressure relief devices and pumps). These unreported fugitive emissions from oil refineries add millions of pounds of harmful pollutants to the atmosphere each year, including over 80 million pounds of VOCs and over 15 million pounds of toxic air pollutants, including 1 million pounds of benzene, a carcinogen.38 Nearly half of all unreported fugitive VOC emissions are estimated to occur in areas that do not meet federal standards for urban smog, including Texas and Louisiana.39 Texas is the leader in unreported VOC emissions at 19.8 million pounds, which almost doubles

Barrels per Day Refined (in millions)

Chart 3. TRI (Toxic Release Inventory) of Oil Refineries in Million of Pounds

Millions of pounds of pollutants released per year







Je rs ey

oi s



Te xa s

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or n


al if

Pe nn s







ex ic o


total state refinery emissions, and Louisiana following in second with 12.7 million pounds. The unreported toxic and carcinogenic emissions are 3.7 million pounds and 2.4 million pounds respectively.40 The pollution attributed to fugitive emissions is preventable and often amounts to monitoring the valves or tightening leaks with a wrench. Additionally, every 100 pounds of VOC emissions from refineries Figure 12: Pasadena Crown Refinery is not only in noncompliance with air quality standards includes approximately 19 but contributes to the 19.8 million pounds of illegal pollution released by Texas refineries pounds of toxic emissions, which thus contributes approximately 6.2 million there are 493 chemical processing THE FINAL STAGES pounds of additional unreported plants in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama toxic air pollution onto the coastal and 556 oil and gas production Distribution communities of Texas and plants, pipeline transmission, Louisiana.41 Almost half of the total compressor stations, and terminals, emissions originate from leaks, while The refined products must next be all of which endanger the lives and the industry has had the technology taken from the refineries and health of workers and nearby readily available for years to fix such distributed to various locations across communities.42 the United States; some is even leaks. There is a clear, dogmatic refusal to clean up the industry and exported back to Mexico. As Diesel trucks, powered by oil, mentioned in earlier sections, it is protect worker and community important to keep in mind that the commute daily in and out of refinery health, as poignantly illustrated by concentration of refineries requires a neighborhoods and spew black many of the case studies in the smoke equivalent to the pollution of complex infrastructure of pipelines, following section. distribution hubs, terminals, shipping 150 cars to carry the 9 million barrels ports. Along with the refinery plants of refined oil products produced

Chart 4. Actual vs. Reported Emissions by Refineries in Million Pounds

Pounds of Pollutants (in millions) emitted per year


Reported Emissions Actual Emissions








The impacts of oil in the Gulf Coast exemplify the corporate-led imperialistic trends of exploitation, and in particular, the exploitation of the most vulnerable and marginalized sectors of the Smog population. The oil industry in the Gulf has robbed communities of The nitrogen oxide emissions are their right to dignity, livelihood, selfyet another source of smogdetermination and a healthy precursors caused by the oil environment. Furthermore, the industry. Sunlight is a governments of both the United requirement for the formation of States and Mexico fail to ensure, and Figure 13: One of the 17 refineries in the smog, making Gulf Coast regions have Houston Area causing severe air pollution particularly vulnerable to smog Environmental Justice repeatedly that has robbed communities of their formation when nitrogen oxides means the fair denied, equal health treatment of people of and volatile organic compounds protection all races, tribes, and (VOCs) are present from the oil under the law brain tumors and children are the economic groups; it industry. When inhaled, smog causes 45 for most vulnerable. means the right of all corrosion of the cell walls along the communities people to selflungs and air passages, which leads of color, determination, dignity ¿Y JUSTICIA?… to infections and causes asthma indigenous and justice at home attacks. in the shadows of refineries peoples, and and in places of work, the poor. The play, study and prayer. Power Plants, Cars, & Communities situated near oil disproporCombustion refineries, as well as the workers tionate distribution of burden makes inside, consistently have their health, the Gulf Coast a clear case of Much of the oil not destined for gas air, livelihood and life compromised environmental injustice. stations or chemical facilities, is used by the impacts of the refineries and in power plants in a combustion The case studies outlined below are process that creates electricity to all cases of environmental injustice Populations (in millions) power lights, computers, air practiced by industry and conditioning, etc. Gasoline in cars government against people and Texas 21.3 burns oil in a small combustion their right to life and health. The Louisiana 4.46 process to power the vehicle. Power Mississippi 2.85 fenceline communities of the oil plants and cars both contribute to Alabama 4.46 industry are predominantly poor smog and are linked to asthma, Mexico Gulf States 12.60 and people of color neighborhoods. respiratory ailments, acid rain and The have invaded and polluted heart disease. Power plants and places of work, of family, of play, of the disregard of corporations and congested highways, most likely to education. The stories reveal a governmental agencies for human be situated in poor communities of consist pattern along the Gulf Coast color, bombard residents with noise life, particularly in communities of: (a) illegal, dangerous activities by dominated by people of color, pollution, carbon monoxide, soot indigenous peoples, campesinos and oil refineries; (b) a disregard of and lead deposits. The consequences communities by local, state and are asthma, lead poisoning, cancers, the poor. University of Texas national environmental agencies; toxicologist, Dr. Marvin Leggator,

daily in Gulf Coast refineries.43 Diesel engines emit more than 40 toxic substances, as well as smogforming nitrogen oxides, and harmful particulate matter (soot). Additionally, they contribute about half of all soot in urban areas, which tiny solid particles are trapped in the lungs and cause tissue damage, asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease and cancer. Unhealthy levels of soot in urban areas is also linked with premature deaths.44

found that 80% of people in refinery neighborhoods have heart conditions or respiratory problems compared to 30% in non-refinery neighborhoods.46 Benzene, dioxins, hydrogen sulphide, lead, mercury, xylenes and ozone are but a few toxins refinery communities live with daily.

(c) lies, cover-ups and misinformation campaigns by government and corporate agencies; (d) an intentional disempowerment of local communities; (e) and corruption of local political officials.


and $328 million in indirect costs.48 This burden falls most heavily on communities located near oil refineries, as well as near the state’s 19 coal power plants, which, in both cases, is most likely to be people of color and poor communities.

The Texas coast is not only home to one of the highest concentrations of oil refineries in the world, but also takes the Voices from the Grassroots national lead in unhealthy air emissions Port Arthur, Texas is home to and carbon dioxide three refineries that process production, the primarily more than 617,000 barrels a cause of climate change. day of oil in a town of 57,755 In Texas, the residents. The state and federal petrochemical industry agencies have consistently Figure 14: Premcor Refinery in Port Arthur, TX, one of along the Gulf Coast turned a blind eye to this the three refineries responsible for 4.2 million pounds of accounts for 75% of the predominantly Africanillegal contaminants in the first seven months of 2002. state’s toxic air emissions, American community. In the and not surprisingly, oil first 7 months of 2002, the refineries are the primary source of refineries released a combined total Texas leads the nation in the VOCs (volatile organic compounds). number of Title VI civil rights of 4.2 million pounds of unpermitted The largest proportion of industrial pollutants into the air this complaints filed against a state carbon dioxide emissions come from community breathes. An environmental agency for unequal oil refineries, as well as the largest environmental consultant of the proportion of nitric oxide emissions, a protection of and discriminatory Premcor refinery justified these policies toward people of color. At precursor to ground-level ozone illegal activities by saying: “When pollution and acid rain. Texas ranks least 9 have been filed since 1994. you have a very complex, threeChildren born near sources of second in the nation in total nitric quarters of a billion dollar facility, industrial air toxins, particularly oxide emissions. petroleum-derived volatile organic there are equipment problems that you are going to have.”51 compounds are about 20% more Fifty percent of Texans live in areas likely to die of leukemia or tumor that do not meet EPA air quality cancer before they reach adulthood. There is no buffer zone between the standards, 20% of the population three polluting refineries and the lives in the Houston-Galveston area, Children born 3 miles from petroleum industry installations were houses, schools and parks. The known for its extremely poor air community is plagued with high in the group having the highest quality, with smog levels even rates of infant mortality, deaths and number of childhood cancer surpassing those of Los Angeles.47 cancers as they are exposed daily to 49 About 17 refineries sit in this extensive deaths. dangerous levels of benzene, sulfur metropolitan area. One noticeable The plight of school children dioxide, toluene. The community consequence of organization CIDA, the Community in 7 eastern Texas counties severe air In-power Development Association, Title VI of the 1964 exemplifies the situation pollution is the charged the Texas environmental Civil Rights Act near refineries. Two-thirds high asthma prohibits of all toxic pollution emitted agency of conspiring with the rates, particularly Premcor refinery to deny the public’s discrimination in any by 100 refineries and among youth. right to a hearing, information and federally financed petrochemical plants is There are comment of the approved pollutionreleased near schools, with project or agency. between 850,000 more than 100,000 children. allowance increases. Filing under and 1.35 million Title VI, CIDA called the actions of The study found that Texans with asthma that costs $348 Hispanic and African-American million in direct medical expenses

children are most likely to attend a school near refinery or chemical plant, and are 73% of “at-risk” children, while composing only 47.1% of the population statewide. Children are most vulnerable to air pollution because pound-for-pound they breathe more air than an adult, spend more time outdoors and are closer to the ground where toxic particles settle.50

TCEQ and Premcor a clear violation of civil rights.52 The 5th largest refinery in the U.S., operated by ExxonMobil, is situated in Beaumont, Texas, a 95% African-American community, where 53% live below the national poverty line. Figure 15: ExxonMobil has poisoned the Over the years, whenever there drinking water supply in Beaumont, TX was threat of hurricane or bad weather that may interrupt operations, ExxonMobil would the plants release toxic clouds that dump all their waste products into provoke nausea. The cancer rate is the city’s storm drains, adjacent neighborhood of Dona contaminating the soil and water Park is 17% higher than the rest of supply. Additionally, this the city.54 grandfathered refinery has had repeated violations of sulfur oxide The homes of Kennedy Heights in and hydrogen sulfide emissions, but Houston, a predominantly Africannonetheless was granted a permit to American neighborhood, sit atop the increase its pollution in 1999 by the former site of 3 earthen pits, each state environmental agency. larger than a football field, used by Located next to the Hildebrandt Gulf Oil to store crude oil and water Bayou, a source of fish for the town in the 1920s. In 1997, the residents is now severely contaminated by a sued Chevron for contaminating Chevron pipelines burst in 1989 that their drinking water and causing spilled more than 230,000 gallons of widespread illnesses. In addition, oil. 53 residents charge that in 1968 Gulf Oil Company sold the Kennedy Heights site to the developer, without cleaning the soil polluted by the old oil pits and hiding their existence to home buyers because they knew homes built there would be marketed to African-Americans. A health survey in 325 homes in Kennedy Heights found 70 cases of Figure 16: Thousands of poor and people cancer, brain tumors, lupus or birth of color live in the backyards of the defects, a rate several times higher refineries in Corpus Christi, TX than found in the general population.55 A few miles east, residents of Pasadena, TX, home of Corpus Christi, Texas, along the southeastern Texas Coast, is home to the Crown refinery, filed a Title VI complaint against the state “refinery row” where 5 adjacent petrochemical complexes sit amid a environmental agency for failure to prevent illegal pollution by the low-income African-American and Hispanic/Mexican community. Local refineries, linking lax enforcement in exchange for monetary and political community organizations have gain.56 documented ground well-water contamination, as well as lead, The Marathon and BP refineries in cadmium and zinc (all toxic heavy metals) contamination in the soil. In Texas City, TX continue to release addition to level rates of asthma, the extremely dangerous amounts of frequent accidents and explosions at benzene, a known carcinogen, into

the community. 3-6 times the allowable levels of benzene that is in the air is linked to the refineries, however it took an unbelievable 6 years for the state environmental agency to finally detect the source of the illegal pollutants. The Houston Chronicle reports that the “air was so foul that the TNRCC [Texas state environmental agency] inspectors became ill and either had to wear respiratory masks to continue working, or abandon their tasks.”57 Over 40,000 residents breathe this air every day. The TRNCC report details “concentrations of air pollutants, including benzene and other VOCs have been present in sufficient quantity and for a sufficient duration of time to cause immediate adverse health and welfare effects.” However, after a leak of this report, the environmental agency
Health Impacts of Benzene: Cancers, including leukemia Reproductive disorders Developmental disorders Effects bone marrow and blood production

spokesperson attempted to assure a sick community that they should not be alarmed at the high levels of carcinogenic compounds in their environment, that it is perfectly safe to live there and there is no indication of an increased risk of cancer.58 Not only is the environmental agency not taking measures to protect the community, they are deliberately misinforming the residents about the health risks they face, and once, again protecting the polluters.

Before the civil rights movements, the late 1950s and 1960s brought a

rush of chemical and petroleum plants to the lower Mississippi River corridor from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. This corridor, the now infamous “cancer alley,” engulfs a 85-mile stretch along the Mississippi River home to 7 refineries and over 140 petrochemical and other industrial plants. Because of its high concentration of heavily Figure 17: The toxic petrochemical industry in polluting industries, Louisiana is Louisiana targets people of color and causes home to one of the world's worst cancer, miscarriages, and a variety of healthtoxic hotspots. Among U.S. related illnesses states, Louisiana ranks second in chemical discharges to surface per year. Homes are located less waters, third in non-point air releases, second in amount of waste than 20 feet from the petrochemical injected into the ground and ninth in complexes. Frequent explosions total chemical releases, according to have damaged homes and killed residents. Thirty percent of the the 1998 EPA Toxics Release homes in the neighborhood have Inventory as self-reported by industry. Statewide, people of color been abandoned because of this toxic neighbor. The local suffer disproportionately from environment is so contaminated that health-related illness, central the community group, the nervous system disorders, birth Concerned Citizens of Norco, defects, miscarriages, persistent demands that Shell relocate nosebleeds, skin conditions and 60 irritation eyes caused by exposure to residents and pay for health care. the pollution. The parish of Calcasieu, Louisiana is Voices from the Grassroots home to 40 petrochemical plants within a 10-mile radius. Mossville, The impoverished residents of the Louisiana is an impoverished, small town Convent, Louisiana predominantly African-American live within a 3-mile radius of a Star community that is not incorporated. Enterprise refinery and five The town was founded in the 1870s petrochemical plants. Each resident by descendents of slaves as a haven ingests about 360 pounds of toxic chemicals per person every year. Located in the St. James parish (county), this is home to 41 different identified cancers. Here and statewide, AfricanAmericans die at a higher rate than whites from cancer.59 Norco, Louisiana is an historic African-American town located in the heart of the region’s Cancer Alley. The four street town is sandwiched between a Shell chemical processing plant and a Shell oil refinery. The average income is below national poverty line, at $14,000

from racial hostility. The economic base of the town was small-scale fishing, hunting and farming. While the residents of the unincorporated communities lack a political voice, they suffer disproportionately from the burden of the refineries. The refineries have contaminated fish, lakes and bayous. The average Mossville resident has dioxin levels in blood 3 times than average US citizen and the death rate is 1.6 times higher than a national disaster. In addition, 91% of the residents had ear, nose and throat symptoms such as burning eyes, nasal soreness, nosebleeds, and severe sinus and ear infections. In addition, 84% of people suffered from central nervous system illnesses (like tremors, seizures).61

Mexico’s Gulf States (Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche)
The oil industry has polluted and destroyed thousands of acres of land, primarily inhabited by descendants of Maya, Olmeca, Zapatec and Chole as well as campesinos. The impacts were largely described in the section on extraction. However, the consequences are that these communities are forced to give up farming, fishing, and tradition ways of life because their land, water and air have been so contaminated with oil. The farmland is polluted and salinized, while the fishing grounds and wetlands are destroyed. The dredging of canals and waterways in Tabasco, in order to create an interlinked canal system to bring in drilling barges, has damaged over 197,000 acres of land, increased the soil and water salinity and contaminated the state’s entire lake and coastal system. Fishing is limited to several miles off the shore, inaccessible to small-scale fisherfolk. The crops, plants, and fish that survive are plagued with bioaccumulated toxins.

Figure 18: The two faces of Mexico's oil industry

The oppressive situation is exacerbated by Pemex’s right to occupy land (with military force if necessary) without permission and then negotiate an after-the-fact contract on their terms. While organizations and communities have risen up against the activities of Pemex, the response is consistently military repression and increased militarization of the region. For instance, in the name of security, 18,000 troops were sent to Veracruz to ‘guard’ the refineries in Minatitlan. The results are human rights abuses suffered by the impacted communities. Attempts by leaders to democratize the Pemex’s workers union has been met with government and military force and incarceration.

The United Nations Environmental Program explains that: “The predicted impacts of climate change The entire planet has become the would probably exacerbate hunger fenceline community of climate and poverty around the world…. change caused by the fossil fuel industry, though certain populations People who are highly dependent on farming, fishing, or forestry will are disproportionately impacted. well see their livelihoods destroyed… The warming of the planet may The poor will suffer the most because cause crop failures, droughts, they have fewer options for flooding, health issues, and many other environmental, economic and responding to the climate.”65 social problems.63 Hence, with respect to climate Climate change change, people of color, indigenous impacts will vary peoples, low-income communities significantly by and the global south will not only be social and (and already are) disproportionately burdened by climate change, but Furthermore, if Pemex decides to economic status also are disproportionately located clean its spills, the company will hire near sources of greenhouse gas workers (usually children) to go, The scientists agree. Climate change emissions (power plants, refineries, unprotected, into the marshes and highways, etc.). The first to be collect the oil waste for $3 a day. At is happening; the only thing up to impacted by climate change are the the end of the day, the workers are debate is how fast it will happen and how bad it will be. The oil least able to adapt and often the offered only diesel fuel, a known industry and the industrialized least responsible for the problem. carcinogen, to wash the oil from nations are most responsible for the Like environmental justice, climate their bodies. 62 problem of climate change. Not justice calls for the end of CLIMATE CHANGE – THE OIL surprisingly, it is the largest consumer of oil, the United INDUSTRY’S LASTING States, that is the main IMPACT contributor to climate change. Twenty-five Every step of the lifeline of oil, from percent of all greenhouse gases emitted come from extraction to distribution to consumption, emits greenhouse gas the U.S. It is the impact of multinational oil companies pollution (e.g. carbon dioxide, that extract, transport, methane) that is having and will have catastrophic global impacts on refine and distribute oil, which is the primary source life, livelihood, health, culture and of carbon dioxide the environment. The extraction emissions.64 and consumption of fossil fuels are the root of global climate change, The total disregard of the which refers to the warming of the oil industry for the local planet and the changing of the communities it plagues with weather due to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the chronic air pollution and atmosphere. Greenhouse gases trap toxic spills sets the scene for the industry’s lax attitude the heat of the sun. The natural Figure 19: Floods, like this one in Houston are balance allows the earth to support towards global climate becoming more frequent and extreme along the Gulf Coast due to climate change. change and climate justice. life. The concentration of greenhouse gases is now higher than The industry has led

in anytime over the last 220,000 years and the oil industry is largely responsible. These unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases cause global climatic instability, or global climate change.

intentional disinformation campaigns to lie to the public about the causes and risks of global climate change.

discriminatory government policies and corporate actions that have disproportionate consequences of people of color and low-income communities. These communities will become even more vulnerable to climate-change related respiratory ailments, heat-related illness and death, and illness from insect-carried diseases.

floods and tornadoes, combining Sea-level rise between 8-20 inches over the next century over $3.56 billion in damage. Mississippi is seventh and Alabama is Loss of fresh water influx eighteenth. The next century is Increase incident of hurricanes expected to see rising temperature of 4-10ºF, rising sea-level of 8-20 Fish and Shellfish: inches and changes in water-flow Oxygen depletion in freshwater patterns and availability.66 The streams communities already burdened by Reduction in habitat for coolrefineries and the petrochemical water species industry, are more vulnerable to Increase concentration of climate change related respiratory Gulf Coast Region & Climate contaminants in fish and shellfish ailments and heat-related deaths. Change In the Gulf Coasts, these populations Agriculture: are predominantly people of color, Climate change is likely to have Drop in agricultural production, low-income, indigenous peoples and more widespread and severe especially cotton, soybean, people with subsidence-based consequences than many sorghum and citrus trees environmental problems. However, livelihoods. The impact of climate Higher incidence of damage by the local impacts of climate change change is going to be strongly agricultural and forestry pests, as on the Gulf Coast region are marked connected to the ability to protect well as by exotic species by uncertainty. It is happening, but oneself from the consequences. Increase water stress (i.e. will the precise implications for require more irrigation) communities and ecosystems are, at Predicted Impacts of Climate Reduce water availability for Change on the Gulf Coast best, an educated guess. Global irrigation warming is causing changes in Decrease soil moisture weather patterns, marked by more Temperature: Oscillate between floods and frequent, intense floods and droughts Increase in temperature 4-10ºF droughts, as well as rapid swings in over the next century weather. Ecosystems: Air Quality and Human Health: Extension of invasive tropical The current climate anomalies, as species Increase in air pollutants, well as the scientific predictions, Loss and migration of plant and especially ozone and smog indicate that drastic measures are animal communities to the north Increase frequency of heat needed in order to curb climate Increase frequency and extent of waves change and protect communities. forest fires Increase population of diseaseCommunities already suffering from carrying insects poor air quality, loss of livelihood Heat Waves and Health and poverty have the most to lose as Water Supply: a result of climate change. The oil The implications of climate change Change in water availability industry on the Gulf has not only clearly have significant impacts on and flow caused the problem of climate ecosystems, health and livelihood of Salt-water intrusion in aquifers change, but has made the coastal populations. The predicted Increase in drought, droughtcommunities where they are located increases in temperatures will related fires even more severely burdened by the increase the already high Increase frequency of sinkhole impacts. concentrations of ground-level ozone collapses throughout the Gulf region. The air, The vulnerability of the Gulf Coast currently in severe non-compliance Gulf of Mexico: region to climate change is Extensive coral bleaching, due to with clean air standards largely due compounded by its flat topography, to the petrochemical industry, is rising temperatures regional land subsidence, extensive projected to become only Increase in harmful algae shoreline development, and unhealthier for residents to breathe. growth frequency of major storms and Increase of acidity of surface hurricanes. Texas, Louisiana and There is a direct correlation between waters Florida top the list of states in terms increase temperature and increase Loss of marine keystone species of annual losses from hurricanes,

release of volatile organic compounds (VOC) into the air.67 Communities near petrochemical installations will be even further burdened with toxic air emissions as temperatures warm. This effect is compounded by the increase of ozone and smog levels. Frequency and severity of asthma attacks will increase, which hit people of color communities the hardest.68 People

of color are almost three times more likely than whites to be hospitalized or die from asthma and other respiratory illnesses linked to air pollution, but are twice as likely to be uninsured.69

Ozone and Health: Aggravate asthma Reduce lung function Cause respiratory inflammation Cause chest pains, nausea, pulmonary congestion

Along with the increase in average temperature, the coast is likely to experience more extreme heat waves, especially in urban centers. Texas is especially A Portrait of Extreme Weather in the Gulf: vulnerable and is likely to see sharp increases in the July 2003: Hurricane Claudette hit Mexico number of heat-related and Texas before “hurricane season” usually deaths and illnesses. The starts. At least two were left dead, thousands state tops the chart in heat without power, and many homeless. The related fatalities from Texas governor declared 16 counties federal 1997-1999. Urban areas, disaster areas. like Houston-Galveston region, are particularly April 2003: Largest downpour in Mississippi vulnerable to heat waves, in recent history, amounting to over 7 inches. and suffer from the heat A state of emergency was declared because island effect whereby of storm and flood damage. Many roads, buildings trap and bridges were washed away. The same month intensify the heat, and a Texas hailstorm caused over $30 million in damage, called one of the “worst weatherprevent nighttime cooling. related disasters to sweep through” An increase in 3º F in summer temperatures February 2003: Huge ice and snowstorm from could more than double southern Texas to the Northeast killed 8 in the number of heatTexas. Closed roads and schools. related deaths per year.70
July 2002: San Antonio was drenched by record rainfall. The flood cost over $1 billion in damage in 17 Texas counties left 8 dead and thousands homeless. There was an outbreak of West Nile virus in Eastern Louisiana. November 2001: Freak snowstorm, the first of the season, killed 7 in Texas, and caused hundreds of traffic accidents. Later that month, a storm brought tornados and dumped over a foot of rain in central Texas, leaving 6 dead. August 2001: Summer heat wave that blanketed cities in the Deep South. June 2001: The worst Houston flood ever kills 20, leaves over $4.8 billion in losses, and ten of thousands homeless in Texas and Louisiana. The next week, this same area suffered from its worst mosquito infestation in recent history.

Children, pound for pound, breathe about 50% more air than adults, spend more time outdoors, and are more likely to breathe with their mouths, which increases exposure to contaminants. Texas has the highest population of children at risk for respiratory disease. Additionally, the elderly have an impaired ability to disperse heat, are more likely to have other illnesses, and are likely to have a depressed immune system, which creates a particular vulnerability to heat stroke.72

Water Resources

Changes in supply and disruption of rainfall could affect the productivity of agriculture, aquaculture and forestry, as well as industrial activities. Most likely, climate change, compounded with other anthropogenic stresses, will increase Everyone is not equally the demand for and decrease the impacted. Those unable supply of water. Sea-level rise and to afford air conditioning land subsidence will likely increase will be most vulnerable, as the frequency and extent of saltwell as the young, the water intrusion into aquifers and elderly and those with pre- drinking water reservoirs. Land existing conditions. A subsidence is connected with the study found that climate extraction of oil, natural gas and change would increase water from the ground, and when heat-related deaths by at combined with drought conditions, is least 90% in large cities. likely to accelerate. People of color are twice as likely to die in a heat Water availability for agriculture wave.71 Warming may will likely decline, while the need to also increase allergies due irrigate will increase due to warmer to increase pollen counts. temperatures and drought conditions. Increase rates of plant Children are more evaporation and decreases in soil susceptible to pollution moisture due to rising temperatures because organs and will add even more water-stress to defense mechanisms have plants and crops. In addition, milder not been fully developed. winters, will allow pests to produce

pollutants, hazardous waste sites, and pesticides. Lead and mercury have an increased risk of early death from asthma, lead poisoning, behavioral and developmental problems, and cancer.75
Figure 20: Climate change is predicted to decrease fish populations. Fisherfolk and people dependent on fish as a food source are particular vulnerable.


Coastal communities will be faced with extreme weather events that are more offspring every year. Plants more intense and more frequent. As are more susceptible to pests under sea level rises, flooding will increase water-limited conditions. 73 in low-lying coastal areas and beaches. Approximately 80% of As 1/3 of Mexicans work in the people of color in the United States agriculture sector, climate change 76 poses a significant risk to agricultural live in coastal regions. Short, intense rainfall events have and food security, especially to increased in frequency over the last subsistence farmers dependent on decade. 74 rain-fed irrigation. The fisheries and aquaculture of the Gulf, most of In July 2002, a rainstorm dumped the most economically valuable in 40 inches in South Texas over one the United States are extremely week, causing massive flooding and vulnerable to climate change. The over $1 billion dollars in damages. conditions in the Gulf arise from The day was labeled the second complex interactions between river discharges, salt-water, wetlands and rainiest day in the history of the city of San Antonio, TX. 48,000 homes temperature. Many habitats of were impacted as houses were commercial fish, particularly those ripped off their foundations leaving dependent on wetlands, are projected to be severely threatened 1000s of people without homes and at least 8 dead. This storm followed by rapid sea level rise and warmer the 2001 floods in Houston from temperatures. Tropical Storm Allison, labeled the worst in they city’s history. Called by Areas where the water supply and the mayor the “city’s quality are stressed, where wastebiggest disaster disposal systems are substandard and where electricity is limited, such ever,” the storm left 20 dead and over as the colonias of South Texas, will $4.8 billion in be disproportionately burdened by damages. The same water-related illnesses induced by rains also left at least the impacts of climate change. Colonias refers to the area along the 1,000 families homeless in East border that is composed of highly impoverished communities. Twelve Baton Rouge Parish 77 percent of the 1500 border colonias in Louisiana. are without portable water and an additional 30% do not have access to wastewater treatment facilities. Already the Mexican/Xicano population suffers disproportionate exposure to outdoor and indoor

intestinal viruses. Flash floods increase the number and concentration of pollutants entering the ground and surface water, furthering contamination of water sources.78 Flash floods are additionally linked to drowning, home damage, displacement of people and disruption of sewage services. While wealthy homeowner may be able to move, low-income people are less able to move and typically lack insurance to replace possessions lost in storms and floods.

Infectious Diseases
Changes in water supplies influence the spread of diseases and waterborne pathogens. It can be expected that infections from bacteria, viruses and protozoa will increase, along with gastrointestinal illnesses. Warmer temperatures and extreme weather conditions can expand the habitat and infectivity of diseasecarrying insects and increase the potential for infections, such as malaria, encephalitis and dengue fever.79 Cases of both dengue and malaria have already increased in the last two decades in the Gulf States. Increases in standing water, will extend the breeding ground for mosquitoes and the growth of allergens, such as mold and fungi. Infections of West Nile and malaria are also likely to increase.

Strong rain events are linked to a marked decrease in coastal water quality and increase incidence of

Figure 21: Diseases from infectious mosquitoes will spread with climate change. The poor and those without health insurance will be most impacted.

to the fact that there are few options for consumers, and even fewer widely available alternatives. It is reported that the oil industry Figure 22: The mutually beneficial relationship between the oil spent $62 million industry and politicians reinforces injustice dollars on politicians financially reward the lobbying congress in 1997 and industry for its abusive, unjust millions more in campaign practices. contributions. The returns are high for this investment, which represents The synergistic relations between the fourth largest amount of any government officials and oil Infectious diseases require early industry. Tax dollars went to detection and treatment, but people support more than $5 billion dollars corporations erode democracy and undermine community health, the of color and the poor are less likely a year in corporate welfare by the 83 environment and workers rights. to have health insurance, making U.S. government. The flow of money comes at the them more vulnerable to infections expense of justice and equal The government offers few and illnesses. Additionally, poor protection as guaranteed by law incentives to invest in renewable nutrition, crowded living conditions and makes it all too convenient for and lack of health insurance increase energy and energy-efficiency. politicians to turn a blind eye to Instead, it turns toward profitable susceptibility to disease. 23.6% of poisoned communities and climate exploitation. In essence, Americans Texans do not have health insurance, one of the highest rates in tax dollars fund the environmentally change. the nation.82 Low-income and poor and socially destructive CONCLUSIONS communities are more at risk to practices of the multi-billion climate change because they have dollar oil corporations. The The Gulf of Mexico is a major hub of less access to air conditioning, less World Trade Organization, the oil industry, where extraction, awareness of the danger (such as World Bank and International transportation, refinement, and ozone days), more likely to live in Monetary Fund all perpetuate distribution occur daily urban areas that act as heat islands. this dependence and foster the growth and power of the oil Communities of color and the THE TEXAS TWO-STEP industry. marginalized are targeted and disportationately burdened by the The current political climate After examining the atrocities polluters and by climate change. committed by the oil industry along illustrates deep-seated The oil industry has caused massive every step of this process, it begs the corruption of the politics of oil. contamination of air, water, and soil President Bush, embedded in question: why does this continue to that has destroyed the farmland and happen? Being the largest business the culture of Texas oil fisheries. exploration, produced an on earth, generating hundreds of billions of dollars a year in revenue, energy plan read as if written Fifty-seven refineries along the Gulf the industry has managed to reach by ExxonMobil. The Vicecoast emit at least 43.8 million President is the former CEO of deep into the political process in pounds of chemicals a year. Halliburton Oil; the Secretary of most countries in the world. Yet, The industry has frequent accidents, the Army is a former vice despite the industry’s billions, the vastly underreports its pollution by at president of Enron. From host communities remain least 32.5 million pounds a year and corporate welfare to tax-cuts to impoverished and sick. is unaccountable to its host recent wars, the White House’s communities. National economies and even daily policies are covered with oil Climate change, caused largely by lives are integrally dependent on oil and the people are paying, not only with their tax dollars, but the oil industry, is set to have and hence the oil companies that also with their health and their catastrophic impacts on the Gulf produce it. This is attributed largely future. In essence, the coast.

Rapid increases in fresh water discharges into the Gulf of Mexico lead to harmful toxic algal blooms. These blooms are linked to foodborne diseases in fish and shellfish, as well as damage to habitat and nurseries.80 Consequently, eating fish and shellfish can cause gastrointestinal diseases, neurotoxic poisoning, respiratory diseases and skin infections, some which may be fatal. The centers of likely increases in shellfish contamination are along the Texas Coast near Galveston Bay and Louisiana.81

a crude oil production terminal using EDXRF." Nuclear Instruments and The profit of oil corporations is 1 Methods in Physics Research Section B: Department of Energy. “An Energy founded on the perpetuation of Beam Interactions with Materials and Overview of Mexico.” http://www.fe. environmental injustices at every Atoms 194(1): 61-64. 17 2 EnviroHealthAction. “Heavy Metals.” step of the process and the “Oil, the World Trade Organization, and Globalization.” 2001. Project exploitation of the most vulnerable s/heavy_metals Underground. and marginalized sectors of the 18 Likens, G.E., Discoll, C.T., Buso, D.C. 1996. ProjectUnderground/downloads/011026 population. They have been Long-term Effects of Acid Rain: wto.pdf 3 allowed to hide their pollution, Response and Recovery of a Forest Environmental Justice and Climate misinform the public, buy-off Ecosystem. Science 243 (4892): 244-7.; Change Initiative. “Climate Change & WHO. 1995. Update and Revision of the agencies and politicians, and worst Environmental Justice.” Fact Sheet. Air Quality Guidelines for Europe of all poison countless communities 4 meeting of Working Group ‘Classical’ Air Stanley, D. R., Wilson, Charles A. 2000. and workers. Democracy and Pollutants. 11-14. “Variation in the density and species human rights have been 19 Global Exchange. 1996. Human Rights composition of fishes associated with undermined in order to support a and Environmental in Tabasco. three petroleum platforms using dual 20 ruthless addiction to fossil fuels. Louisiana Oil & Gas Pipelines. “Pipeline beam hydroacoustics.” Fisheries Government agencies continually Information.” Research 47: 161-172. pipe.htm turn a blind eye to the injustices and 5 Department of Energy. “An Energy 21 Davenport, Christian. 2000. “Longhorn Overview of Mexico.” http://www.fe. side with the polluters and profit, debate calls attention to pipelines.” abandoning commitments to equity, 6 Austin American-Statesman U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. justice, and life. 1999. “The Ecological Condition of /pipelines/austin-pipelines.html Estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico.” 22 These tyrannical corporations are TSHA Online. “Handbook of Texas Washington D.C., EPA 620-R-98-004: 3Online.” www.tsha.utexas. edu/ parading for economic globalization 80. 7 handbook/online/articles/view/GG/ Raines, B. 31 December 2001. “Studies as yet another unjust mechanism to rrg7.html Indicate Gulf Oil Rigs Are Islands of further extend profits, power, and 23 Energy Information Administration. Legal Contamination.” Mobile Register. pollution. Climate change illustrates 8 2003. PAD District III - Imports of Crude Stanley, D. R., Wilson, Charles A. 2000. the expansion of local injustices into 9 Gerlotto, F., Bercy, C., Bordeau, B. 1989. Oil and Petroleum Products by Country unprecedented environmental and of Origin, Petroleum Supply Monthly: 78. “Echo integration survey around 24 Texas Natural Resource Conservation human rights disasters. offshore oil extraction platforms off Commission. “Leaking PST Program.” Cameroon: observations of the repulsive effect on fish of some artificially emitted The oil industry in the Gulf has emed/rpr/ sounds.” Proc. Inst. Acoust. 19: 79-88. robbed communities of their right to 10 25 Think Quest. “Petroleum Storage Raines, B. 31 December 2001. a healthy environment, dignity, and 11 Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Terminals.” The Environment: A Global livelihood. Thus, the protection of Challenge. Registry. “ToxFAQs for Mercury.” CAS# health, livelihood, and culture is 26026/Health_Concerns/petroleum_stor 7439-97-6 age_terminals.html integrally linked to the opposition of 26 12 Cetin, E., Odabasi, M., Seyfioglu, R. Yanez, Ivonne. 1996.” Oilwatch Mexico: the current system of corporate 2003. "Ambient Volatile Organic Basta de Accidentes Impunes!” Oilwatch control. Compound (VOC) Concentrations Mexico. 13 around a Petrochemical Complex and a Yanez, Ivonne. 1996 Translated by The struggle for environmental and Petroleum Refinery." The Science of the Southwest Workers Union. 14 climate justice requires Total Environment 312: 103-112. Global Exchange. 1996. Human Rights 27 EPA. April 1999. “1997 Toxic Release independence from our addiction to and Environmental in Tabasco. San Inventory.” Francisco, oil and a dedication to renewable 28 Waxman, H. A. 1999. Oil Refineries Fail revolt/mexico/reports/gxhrenv.html. energy and energy-efficiency. 15 to Report Millions of Pounds of Harmful Narena-Barrosos, E., Gold-Bouchot, G., Southwest Workers’ Union calls for Emissions. Washington, DC, U.S. House Zapata-Perez, O., and Sericano, J.L. convergence between those of Representatives: 1-14. 1999. "Polynuclear Aromatic 29 burdened by the oil industry along ClimateArk News. 6 Jan. 2000 “Pemex Hydrocarbons in American Oysters is Mexico's dirtiest air polluter.” the Gulf Coast to dialogue, Crassostrea virginica from the Terminos Lagoon, Campeche, Mexico." Marine strategies, and envision a future that /1st/pemismex.htm Pollution Bulletin 38(8): 637-645. is equitable, healthy and 30 16 Waxman, H. A. 1999. “Oil Refineries Fail Obiajunwa, E. I., Pelemo, D.A., Owolabi, empowered for the coastal to Report Millions of Pounds of Harmful M.K., Johnson-Fatokun, F.O. 2002. communities and petroleum Emissions.” Washington, DC, U.S. House "Characterisation of heavy metal workers. of Representatives: 1-14. pollutants of soils and sediments around





EPA, “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-1997”, 2-30, Table 2-27 32 US Department of Energy. “US Refining Capacity.” pub/oil_gas/petroleum/analysis_publicat ions/oil_market_basics/Refining_text.htm #U.S.%20Refining%20Capacity 33 Compilation of data as reported to EPA. Available at 34 For this report, a community of color is defined as the population within 3 miles of the refinery is composed of at least 45% People of Color residents. The numbers are based on the most recent data provided by the EPA taken from the 1990 census. 35 Data collected from www.quickfacts. 36 Individual refinery data retrieved from 37 Physicians for Social Reponsibility. 2000. “In Harm’s Way: The Toxic Threat to Child Development” 38 The total amount of unreported leaks is likely to be significantly higher. 80 millions pounds of VOCs is an EPA estimate which only includes unreported leaks from valves and does not take into account any unreported leaks from other sources, like pumps or compressor seals. 39 Waxman, H. A. 1999. 40 Waxman, H. A. 1999. 41 18 August 1995. National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Petroleum Refineries; Final Rule 40, 40 CFR Part 9, 60, 63 42 Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connections. 2002. “Analysis of Gulf Coast Region Indicates Historical Capital Spending.” 7 (22). ntn24646.htm. 43 Sierra Club. 2003. “Clean Air Factsheet: Dirty Diesel.” www.sierraclub. org/cleanair/factsheets/diesel.asp 44 Ibid. 45 Kay, J. H. 1997. “Asphalt Nation: How the automobile took over America and how we can take it back.” Berkeley, University of California Press. 44-6. 46 Rimmer, L. 2003. “Failing the Challenge: The Other Shell Report 2002.” London, Friends of the Earth: 8. 47 Physicians for Social Responsibility, 2003. “Degrees of Danger: How Smarter Energy Choices Can Protect the Health of Texans.” Washington, D.C.: 4-56. 48 Henson, S., Larson, D., Altman, P. 2003. “A is for Air Pollution Part II: The Toxic Threat to Texas Schools.” Austin Texas, Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition: 1-17.


Ibid. Ibid. 51 Masterson, K. 17 October 2002. “Refineries' Record Blasted: Port Arthur Plants Top Clean-Air Limit by 4.2 Million Pounds.” Houston Chronicle. Washington: A25. 52 Rimmer, L. 2003. 8. 53 Toxic Texas. “Environmental Injustice in Beaumont Texas” TX PEER. ont.html 54 Toxic Texas. “Corpus Christi’s Refinery Row.” TX PEER. toxictour/corpus_christi.html 55 Project Underground. 1997. “Chevron’s Misdeeds in Texas.” Drillbits & Tailings. ProjectUnderground/motherlode/chevro n/texas.html 56 Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter. 1998. “Texans United and Sierra Club File Civil Rights Complaint Against Texas Environmental Agency.” http://www. 57 Freemantle, T. 3 October 2001. “Living Under A Dark Cloud: Marathon, BP Blamed for Releasing Toxic Benzene.” Houston Chronicle. Texas City: A19. 58 Ibid. 59 Cancer Alley. “Convent.” esp 60 Rolfes, Anne. 2000. “Shell Games: Divide and Conquer in Norco’s Diamond Community. “ issues/PID.jsp?articleid=404. 61 Greenpeace USA. “Fact Sheet: Mossville, Louisiana” ets/mossvilletext.htm 62 Global Exchange. 1996. “Human Rights and Environmental in Tabasco.” 63 Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative. “Climate Change & Environmental Justice.” Fact Sheet. 64 Bruno, Kenny, Karliner, Joshua, and Brotsky, China 1999. “Greenhouse Gangsters vs. Climate Justice.” San Fransisco, CorpWatch: 29. 65 Ibid. 5. 66 Twilley, R., et al. 2001. “Confronting Climate Change in the Gulf Coast Region: Prospects for Sustaining our Ecological Heritage.” Washington, D.C., Union of Concerned Scientists: 1-80. 67 Cetin, E., Odabasi, M., Seyfioglu, R. 2003. 68 Miller, Ansje. 2000. A Fair Climate for All. Oakland, Redefining Progress. 69 Ibid. 70 Twilley, R., et al. 2001.


Miller, Ansje. 2000. Physicians for Social Responsibility, 2003. 73 Ibid. 74 Liverman, D. M., O'Brien, K.L. 1991. "Global Warming and Climate Change in Mexico." Global Environmental Change 14: 351-364. 75 Physicians for Social Responsibility, (2003). 76 Metrovision Factbook. “Tables and Exhibits,” 77 Gelbspan, R. “Extreme Weather Profiles.” The Heat is On. 78 Twilley, R., et al. 2001. 57. 79 Physicians for Social Responsibility, 2003. 80 Ibid. 81 Twilley, R., et al. 2001. 82 Physicians for Social Responsibility, 2003. 83 Bruno, Kenny, Karliner, Joshua, Brotsky, China. 1999.

Unless otherwise indicated photographs taken by Genaro Lopez and Jill Johnston. Cover: Texas City, TX; Table of Contents: Texas City, TX (1) Texas City, TX; (2) from mar/010307spindletophill.html; (3) from mexico.html; (4) from www.rfdbase. com/Resources/oil_well.gif; (5) from; (6-7) Port Arthur, TX; (8) Corpus Chrisit, TX; (9) Baytown, TX; (10) Houston, TX; (11) map from www.gulfofmexicofoundation. com/facts.htm, figures added by author; (12) Pasadena, TX; (13) Houston, TX; (14) Port Arthur, TX; (15) Baytown, TX; (16) Corpus Christi; (17) Texas City, TX; (18) from E.J Williams. 1979. Rebirth of the Mexican Petroleum Industry. Lexington: Lexington Books. 111.; (19) from topstory/7925/7925notw7.html; (20) from and3.html; (21) from www.scorpioncity. com/gallery.html; (22) Texas City, TX


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