Port Arthur, Texas Poised to Showcase Environmental Justice History
With the technical help of Neil Carman of the Lone Star Sierra Club, Kelley engaged Texas regulators in battles over enforcement, permits and inadequate air monitoring. With a growing posse of powerful partners, Hilton hammered away at EPA regulators to get focus on the pollution problems in Port Arthur. He helped to defeat a proposal to burn toxic PCB waste (imported from Mexico) at a local incinerator and blocked a Shell oil refinery expansion until the company agreed to some of the most stringent pollution controls in the nation. As a result of his activism, Kelley was appointed to the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, created to address human health and environmental concerns in disadvantaged communities.
Kelley was key in convincing the EPA to name Port Arthur an Environmental Justice Showcase Community, a recognition given to only 10 communities across the nation facing disproportionate environmental burdens. The project was awarded $100,000 over two years to supplement local efforts already in place to “alleviate environmental and human health challenges.” The program is as a model for the “design and implementation of future Environmental Justice projects.” Kelley serves tirelessly on four of the six committees working on issues like toxic spill warning sirens and relocating as many as 400 homes located too close to refineries and chemical plants.
What’s next for Hilton? The sky is the limit or should I say clearing the skies? Let’s hope there is a Hollywood feel good ending for this reality show. Good Luck to Hilton and Port Arthur, on the road to true Environmental Justice.