Unbeknownst to many, the United States is soon to be the largest exporter of oil and gas. With increased drilling and fracking in the Texas Permian Basin, many proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities, and multiple oil and gas pipelines headed for the Gulf of Mexico Coast. The neighboring communities are at the nexus of climate change disasters and community resistance. Port Arthur, Texas, is home base for the largest oil refinery in North America and a dizzying toxic array of fossil fuel and chemical facilities. But the people are stepping up to say - NO MORE. Port Arthur Community Action Network (also known as PACAN) is raising the alarm, holding the polluters accountable, and paving the path to transition away from an extractive economy to one that supports restorative justice.
Drilling, enabled by the fracking boom, has more than quadrupled in the past decade, and is expected to grow aggressively in the upcoming years. Across the Gulf Coast (in Texas and Louisiana), petrochemical corporations are racing to build new pipelines, oil and gas terminals and processors, and massive plastic producing plants. If allowed, this would increase the threat of climate disaster and further pollute the most vulnerable black, Indigenous, and low income communities who have suffered far too long the disproportionate impacts.
Our guest on this encore presentation is John Beard, Jr., Founder and CEO of Port Arthur Community Action Network [www.pa-can.com], is helping to mobilize his community of Port Arthur and the Southeast Texas region. As a former oil employee turned advocate for environmental justice in the place he has lived all his life. John has been fighting for health and safety protections on the refineries, export terminals, petrochemical plants, and leading efforts against deepwater ports, each of which could export an estimated 2 million barrels of crude oil per day.
He is the recipient of the 2021 Rose Braz Award for Bold Activism from the Center for Biological Diversity. This year he helped lead Octobers historic People vs. Fossil Fuels week of action in Washington DC, and he brought a powerful voice to last November's U.N. climate talks in Glasgow.