As President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency is working to weaken a range of pollution monitoring and reporting requirements, science-based standards and other measures that would be more protective of health and safety, residents in mostly black and Latino communities in Houston and the Gulf Coast, where the country's largest petrochemical corridor is located, tell the Associated Press, "They're basically killing us."
Since the EPA announced it would be indefinitely suspending enforcement for noncompliance with reporting and monitoring requirements for air, water and hazardous waste violations during the coronavirus pandemic, AP's Ellen Knickmeyer reports that "air pollutants in Houston’s most heavily industrialized areas have surged as much as 62 percent, a Texas A&M analysis found."
"Even before the Trump administration began the rollbacks, Houston’s urban freeways and industries were pumping enough poisonous refinery chemicals, heavy metals and diesel and car exhaust to 'almost certainly' be to blame for some respiratory problems and early deaths, as well as an 'unacceptable increased risk' for cancers and chronic disease, concluded a landmark city task force, started in 2005 to study the health impacts."
Now, as information about what's in the air is "difficult to find out from authorities," writes Knickmeyer, "community activists have taken monitoring into their own hands." Bridgette Murray, a retired nurse and advocate who founded a nonprofit in Houston's Pleasantville neighborhood, Achieving Community Tasks Successfully, launched a community-owned network of air monitors.
Galena Park resident and Air Alliance Houston organizer Juan Flores tells Knickmeyer, "We have to defend ourselves, because the federal government isn’t going to do it.”
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