Twenty-four residents representing eight Louisiana communities traveled to Galena Park, Texas on August 5, 2014 in support of the US Environmental Protection Agency Refinery Rule to force petroleum refineries to reduce toxic air emissions. The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in partnership with Advocates for Environmental Human Rights organized a group of community residents who have suffered both physical and psychological health problems from toxic chemical exposure due to emissions from nearby refineries in their community. There are currently 142 petroleum refineries in the United States. Exposure to toxic air pollutant emissions can cause upper respiratory problems and can increase the risk of developing cancer.
There were nine organizations from Louisiana represented at the hearing including Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, New Orleans, LA, Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO), Thibodaux, LA, Connecting Kids to the Environment , Phoenix, LA, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, New Orleans, LA, Louisiana Democracy Project, Baton Rouge, LA, Mossville Environmental Action Now (MEAN), Mossville, LA, Sierra Club, Baton Rouge, LA, Truth Community Outreach, Destrehan, LA, and Zion Travelers Cooperative Center, Phoenix, LA.
Twelve Louisiana residents had an opportunity to testify at the public hearing to urge EPA to move forward with stricter refinery emissions standards to control toxic air emissions being released in their communities.
Dorothy Felix, president of Mossville Environmental Action Network (MEAN) in Mossville, LA testified that there are already 14 large industrial plants in her community and Sasol, a gas to liquid plant, wants to build another facility in her community. She said, “in fact, a section of Mossville is being relocated due to ground water contamination.” Residents in her community were tested for dioxin exposure and test results revealed some Mossville residents had three times the national average of dioxin blood levels. Ms. Felix appealed to the EPA to “protect us, you are the agency in place that has the power to protect fenceline communities, we want you to strongly enforce regulations so that we human beings in the current and future generations can have a healthy and safe environment to live in.”
Lyric Turner, a sixteen year old youth coordinator for Connecting Kids to the Environment, from Phoenix, LA challenged the EPA to “make the monitoring data easy to understand and access, hire enough inspectors to investigate refinery operations, make the penalties fit the crime – no more slaps on the wrists, and ensure that the refinery doesn’t repeat the violation.”
EPA officials estimate the rules could reduce toxic emissions by as much as 5,600 tons a year, directly affecting the 5 million people in the US who live within a 32 mile radius of oil refineries. As a result of the proposed changes, refineries would reduce toxic emissions, improving air quality and protecting public health in communities surrounding these facilities.
The EPA has extended the deadline for written comments on the proposed oil refinery regulations from August 29, 2014 to October 28, 2014 .ÂÂ Please click on the link for instructions on submitting a written comment.
Travel funded by the Sierra Club and Earthjustice