t.e.j.a.s. is based in the east end of Houston, Texas. Our district – Texas Congressional District 29 – surrounds the Houston Ship Channel – the busiest international port in the country, and home to the largest petrochemical refinery complex in the western hemisphere. Because of the lack of safety within industrial facilities along the ship channel, Houston communities have been subjected to decades of uncontainable toxic pollution. As a result, Houston ranks 1st in the nation for Mercury, Formaldehyde, Benzene, and 1-3 Butadiene and a host of other toxic chemicals in the air. Texas ranks 1st in the nation for carbon dioxide emissions, cancer-causing chemicals released into the air, toxic chemicals released into water, hazardous waste generated, and much more undocumented pollution. These highly toxic chemicals cause sickness that ranges from asthma to cancer, to infertility. A University of Texas study revealed that children living in a two-mile radius of the Houston Ship Channel have a 56% greater chance of developing Leukemia than kids living outside a 10-mile radius. Despite record profits, record pollution, record sickness, and minutes away from the largest medical center in the world- Texas Congressional District 29 has more uninsured children than any district in the nation.
Regardless of these disparities, the Houston Ship Channel is scheduled for drastic expansion for 2014. The Keystone XL pipeline has been given the “green light”, and construction of the southern leg was completed in January 2014. This will establish a direct line from the Alberta Tar Sands to Houston and other Gulf Coast refineries, bringing 11 times more sulfur, 11 times more nickel, and 5 times more lead. This will mean a devastating hot, polluted, and sick future for Houston and the planet– one that Chief climatologist James Hansen of NASA declares as “Game Over” for our climate.