"On the 30th anniversary of the first presidential executive order on environmental justice, a report from the fencelines in the booming Southeast Texas petrochemical corridor."
"PORT ARTHUR, Tex.—Downtown Port Arthur has the feel of a ghost town, until you look to the horizon.
Boarded-up buildings stand next to vacant lots, like missing teeth in a smile that faded decades ago. There are few people on the sidewalks, and 10 minutes can pass before a single car drives by on Proctor Street, where parades once drew crowds celebrating a float boasting, “Port Arthur Oils The World.”
Looking west, however, the signs of economic life come in the form of billowing steam and toxic fossil fuel emissions rising from stacks of the largest oil refinery in North America. The sprawling Motiva plant—a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco and one of three refineries in Port Arthur—is among dozens of industrial plants in a robust southeast Texas swath of the nation’s Gulf Coast petrochemical hub.
With the United States leading the world in oil and gas production, it’s boom time for the fossil fuel economy in Jefferson County. Local companies are expanding production and building new plants to make plastics, plastic feedstocks and liquified natural gas for export."