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Jayapal, Whitehouse Tour Toxic Sites in Port Arthur, TX

PORT ARTHUR, TX — U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) toured various toxic sites in Port Arthur, Texas in the wake of the Biden administration’s announcement that they would pause approvals for new liquified natural gas (LNG) plants.

“Today, I saw the effects of fossil fuels on frontline communities in sharp relief. Oil refineries and natural gas plants are releasing millions of tons of methane and carbon dioxide, polluting air and water and making entire neighborhoods unlivable,” said Jayapal. “Federal accountability and oversight have and will continue to be necessary to stand up to Big Oil — that’s why I strongly applaud the President’s announcement to pause any new LNG permits and to ensure that the effects on communities are taken into account in any future process. It’s also why our work in Congress in ensuring Justice 40 — that 40 percent of resources go to the communities who have borne the brunt of climate injustice — is so important and why we must continue to ensure that we clear away barriers to ensuring communities receive those resources. The path forward is clear: move away from poisonous fossil fuels, expand clean energy, and invest in the most affected communities to support that transition. In Port Arthur and across the country, we can and must do more to protect our planet and our people.”

“The residents of Port Arthur are enduring the health and economic damages that come with living in a community polluted by fossil fuel interests,” said Whitehouse. “The Biden administration’s pause on new LNG plants is very welcome news here. I will continue fighting to secure justice for the communities bearing the brunt of pollution created by reckless oil and gas companies.” 

“Communities like ours in Port Arthur have long been viewed as sacrifice zones by the oil and gas industry as they maximize their profits while we pay the price with our health and safety,” said John Beard, Jr., Founder and CEO of the Port Arthur Community Action Network. “We thank Rep. Jayapal and Senator Whitehouse for taking our plea seriously and coming to Port Arthur, listening to our stories, and fighting fossil fuel interests in Congress. Their leadership addressing climate change and environmental injustice is critical to our movement.”

Port Arthur is a predominantly Black and Latino community with a high concentration of LNG plants, putting them on the frontlines of the climate crisis. These LNG plants and other polluters create major environmental challenges for the community of Port Arthur that affect the health of those who live there.

The tour featured five stops to view oil refineries, LNG export terminals, and petrochemical facilities including the Valero and Motiva Facilities, Golden Pass, Sabine Pass, Sempra LNG Terminals, Total Refinery, Golden Triangle Polymers Site, and the TPC Group Complex and Huntsman Petrochemical facility. These facilities pump millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the air annually as well as known carcinogens like Benzene into the air and water. Many of these facilities are located near the proposed site of the CP2 LNG Terminal, which was paused by President Biden last week in order to analyze its impact on climate change.

Through the Inflation Reduction Act, which Jayapal supported, the Port Arthur Community Action Network recently received $407,600 in grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address pollution and energy efficiency, including funding to set air monitoring baselines in the Greater Port Arthur and Lake Charles area.