Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Activist Climbs Flagpole Outside Refinery Office, Hangs Banner Denouncing Investment in Keystone XL


Tar Sands Blockade

An activist with Tar Sands Blockade climbed a 50 foot flagpole in front of LyondellBasell‘s downtown Houston, Texas, office this morning and hung a banner denouncing the corporation’s plans to nearly triple its tar sands processing capacity at its Houston Refining facility in the Hispanic neighborhood of Manchester. The banner reads: “LyondellBasell, Stay Out of Tar Sands. No KXL.”

Perry Graham, an activist with Tar Sands Blockade climbed a 50 foot flagpole in front of LyondellBasell‘s downtown Houston office this morning and hung a banner denouncing the corporation’s plans to nearly triple its tar sands processing capacity at its Houston Refining facility in the Hispanic neighborhood of Manchester. Photo courtesy of Tar Sands Blockade

Today’s protest, from activist Perry Graham, is in response to a recent announcement by LyondellBasell’s CEO Jim Gallogly that they were “just finishing up” a $50 million upgrade to increase the Houston Refining facility’s capacity to process tar sands. The planned upgrade to the largest refinery in the City of Houston would process 175,000 barrels of tar sands per day, or nearly one-quarter of the capacity of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline. If built, the pipeline would carry toxic tar sands from Alberta, Canada to Houston and other Gulf Coast refineries before being primarily exported overseas.

“I’m taking action today to expose LyondellBasell’s unjust practices of environmental racism, from the poisoning of the Athabascan Chipewyan people due to tar sands extraction, to the ongoing refinery pollution affecting communities of color in Houston’s toxic East End,” said Graham. “After last week’s 55 actions across the continent to stop tar sands profiteers, corporations like LyondellBasell that process tar sands should expect active resistance.”

LyondellBasell has a history of dodging accountability for their pollution. In 2009, LyondellBasell filed for bankruptcy, allowing the corporation to avoid nearly $5 billion in environmental cleanup costs at 11 contaminated sites across the country. Last year, LyondellBasell was sued by Harris County for four incidents at their Channelview, Texas, refinery that resulted in the release of five tons of pollutants, including benzene, octane, ethylene, propylene and 1,3-butadiene.

To make matters worse, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) refused to allow a public hearing to review LyondellBasell’s benzene emissions in Houston in 2010. This lack of oversight leaves affected communities like Manchester, located less than two miles from the LyondellBasell refinery, to suffer toxic pollutants and cancer-related deaths without recourse.

“The fence-line community of Manchester already deals with the effects of the pollution from surrounding industry,” said Manchester resident and Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson Yudith Nieto. “Now LyondellBasell wants to almost triple dirty tar sands refining in our communities without regard for the safety and well being of the people. Where are the state environmental agencies who have a duty to protect us from this unjust and destructive industry?”


Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.



EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Residents plant mangroves on the coast of West Aceh District in Indonesia on Feb. 21, 2020. Mangroves play a crucial role in stabilizing the coastline, providing protection from storms, waves and tidal erosion. Dekyon Eon / Opn Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.

Read More Show Less
UN World Oceans Day is usually an invite-only affair at the UN headquarters in New York, but this year anyone can join in by following the live stream on the UNWOD website from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST. https://unworldoceansday.org/

Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?

Read More Show Less
Cryptococcus yeasts (pictured), including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas

From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.

Read More Show Less
National Trails Day 2020 is now titled In Solidarity, AHS Suspends Promotion of National Trails Day 2020. The American Hiking Society is seeking to amplify Black voices in the outdoor community and advocate for equal access to the outdoors. Klaus Vedfelt / DigitalVision / Getty Images

This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.

Read More Show Less
Indigenous people from the Parque das Tribos community mourn the death of Chief Messias of the Kokama tribe from Covid-19, in Manaus, Brazil, on May 14, 2020. MICHAEL DANTAS / AFP / Getty Images

By John Letzing

This past Wednesday, when some previously hard-hit countries were able to register daily COVID-19 infections in the single digits, the Navajo Nation – a 71,000 square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) expanse of the western US – reported 54 new cases of what's referred to locally as "Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19."

Read More Show Less
World Environment Day was put into motion almost fifty years ago by the United Nations as a response to a multitude of environmental threats. RicardoImagen / Getty Images

It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.

Read More Show Less


Experts are worried that COVID-19, a primarily respiratory and airway disease, could have permanent effects on lungs, inhibiting the ability for divers to continue diving. Tiffany Duong / Ocean Rebels

Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.

Read More Show Less