Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Yesterday in Crosby, Texas (about 25 miles northeast of Houston) a tank holding a flammable chemical caught fire at a KMCO chemical plant, killing one worker, critically injuring two others and sending panicked employees fleeing over a fence to safety. This was the third explosion in the petrochemical industry in the past 3 weeks (the others were an Exxon refinery in Baytown, TX and at an Intercontinental Terminals Co. plant in Deer Park TX). As AP reported, “all residents within a one-mile radius of the plant were ordered to stay indoors or shelter in place for about four hours. The fire sent a large black plume of smoke into the air.”
Why This Matters: KMCO, Exxon and Intercontinental Terminals are all part of their industry’s highly-touted environmental health and safety programs (ACC’s Responsible Care and SOCMA’s Chem Stewards programs) which have been promoted as alternatives to more stringent regulations. However, in Texas regulators are failing to issue penalties for fossil fuel and petrochemical companies that violate laws and these three recent fires demonstrate that neither self-regulation nor industry-friendly regulators (who underestimate public health risks) are capable of keeping the public safe. These industries exert extraordinary political influence in oil and gas-producing states but some cities like New Orleans are taking up the fight to hold them accountable, perhaps it’s Houston’s turn.
Gas flaring was responsible for Texas’s recent increase in oil refinery pollution, but it’s hardly a new problem. We’re less than a decade away from the UN’s goal of Zero Routine Flaring by 2030, but refineries still flare 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year, releasing 400 million tons of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants into the atmosphere.
Why This Matters: Companies have historically practiced gas flaring as a convenient and inexpensive way to “dispose of ” gas that was extracted alongside oil, as opposed to storing paying to store it.
Despite over four million Texans losing power during the recent deep freeze, oil refineries released an increased amount of pollution into the air. In a state that leads the nation in both power production and carbon emissions, experts say that failure to winterize power infrastructure resulted in harmful releases of toxic air pollution.
Why This Matters: Texas is the nation’s leading power producer, and to achieve this, the state has heavily deregulated not only its power grid but the fossil fuel industry as well.
People riding American subway lines are exposed to air pollution that’s worse than a bad day in Beijing, according to new research that studied subway networks in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and D.C.
Why this Matters: We hope Secretary Pete takes note because this is an environmental justice issue.
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.