The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Hunger Strike Continues as Community Demands Transparency of Petrochemical Giant
Residents of the Houston neighborhood of Manchester are demanding today that the Valero refinery, which has been polluting the air surrounding their homes for decades, reveal exactly what toxins it is forcing residents to breathe. Community members were joined by Gulf Coast activists Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey Jr., who have committed to an indefinite hunger strike until Valero agrees to divest from the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which is linked to environmental destruction and human rights abuses in Canada. Today marks the 29th day of their sustained strike.
The event culminated with a rally and protest outside the Valero refinery that has been forcing local residents to breathe poisonous, cancer-causing chemicals for decades. Community members, organizers, Lindsey and Wilson marched to a neighborhood park that sits in the shadow of the Valero smokestack, carrying a banner that read, “We demand to know what you are forcing us to breathe.”
“I have trouble breathing, a really bad cough and asthma. It feels like I can’t breathe, it’s really scary,” said Yudith Nieto, a Houston resident who grew up in the Manchester neighborhood. “You feel helpless and you can’t understand why something like this is happening to you.”
For years residents have been purposefully misinformed and disproportionately exploited for Valero’s benefit. The Manchester community has suffered through decades of premature deaths, cancers, asthma and other diseases attributable to the refinery emissions.
“There is an unending war and Valero has the weapon of destruction,” said Wilson, who has spent decades working to expose how the Texas petrochemical complex has been covering up spills and dumping lethal chemicals into bays along Gulf Coast. “A popular motto of the unions was that an injury to one is an injury to all. Well, make no mistake: Manchester is being harmed.”
Community groups Tar Sands Blockade and Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS) have been actively organizing a campaign of growing resistance in Manchester, highlighted most recently when Gulf Coast activists Wilson and Lindsey began a sustained hunger strike on Nov. 29, after locking their necks to tanker trucks destined for the Valero refinery.
"Manchester is a living example of environmental racism," said María Jiménez, TEJAS board member and life-long resident of Houston's East End. "Today segregation means the unequal impact of air, water and noise pollution on historically marginalized communities. Whether it's the immediate health effects or the long term chronic illnesses, Manchester suffers while Valero pursues record profits."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Zak Smith
It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:
By Hector Chapa
With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.
But can these masks be effective?
By Carey Gillam
Bayer AG is reneging on negotiated settlements with several U.S. law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who claim exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sources involved in the litigation said on Friday.
With many schools now closed due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, you may be looking for activities to keep your children active, engaged, and entertained.
Although numerous activities can keep kids busy, cooking is one of the best choices, as it's both fun and educational.
Germany's target for renewable energy sources to deliver 65% of its consumed electricity by 2030 seemed on track Wednesday, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables in 2020's first quarter. Renewable energy advocates, however, warned the trend is imperiled by slowdowns in building new wind and solar plants.