John Beard of Port Arthur Community Action Network, is mobilizing the Gulf Coast for health and safety protections on the oil and gas industry that has caused high levels of illness and risk for accidents from industrial facilities located near residents and vulnerable ecosystems, all subject to major impacts from climate-change-fueled hurricanes and floods. Originally published on 10 December 2021.
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John Beard Protecting Port Arthur, Texas from Fossil Fuel and Petrochemical Expansion
The communities of the Gulf of Mexico are at the nexus of climate change 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. Along with other Gulf Coast advocates including Roishetta Ozane who EcoJustice Radio recently spoke with, Texas and Louisiana communities are imperiled by even more petrochemical and liquefied natural gas terminal development. These facilities have caused toxic plumes poisoning drinking water in Lake Charles, dead fish floating in the Calcasieu River, black smoke billowing overhead communities in Port Arthur as excess gas is burned at the refineries, and children’s lungs are compromised by harmful chemicals while they play in their backyards.
For the mostly Black and Latino residents of Port Arthur — home to three oil refineries, two liquid natural gas terminals and at least 40 other facilities that release toxins into the air — the burning of fossil fuels is a local health hazard as well as a planetary threat eresponsible for surepetitious superstorms hitting the Gulf Coast every year. Accordingly, John Beard’s group, 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.
Our guest, John Beard, Jr., Founder and CEO of Port Arthur Community Action Network, 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 October’s historic People vs. Fossil Fuels week of action in Washington DC, and he brought a powerful voice to November’s U.N. climate talks in Glasgow.
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Our guest today, John Beard, is mobilizing Port Arthur and the Gulf Coast region to take on major expansion of oil and gas production. He is the recipient of the 2021 Rose Braz Award for Bold Activism @CenterForBioDiv
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Updated 4 September 2022
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