News / USA

Texas Resident Wins Award for Challenging Oil Refineries

Hilton Kelley won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for his work confronting refineries on pollution in the town of Port Arthur, Texas
Hilton Kelley won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for his work confronting refineries on pollution in the town of Port Arthur, Texas

Multimedia

Deborah Block

A resident of Texas has won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Award for his work confronting refineries on pollution in the town of Port Arthur.  The city has a population of 60,000 and one of the highest levels of air pollution in the United States.  Hilton Kelley has spent a decade fighting to lower Port Arthur's air pollution through protests and legal action against major oil and chemical companies.  The Goldman award is funded by the family of Richard Goldman, a San Francisco philanthropist who died last year.

Hilton Kelley grew up in a poor, African-American neighborhood.  

"I was born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas, right next to the refineries," said Kelley.  

Kelley left Port Arthur as a young adult and was living in California.  When he visited his home town in 2000, he was appalled at the condition of his neighborhood.

"People are living at or below the poverty line right next to so much wealth due to lack of jobs, yet we have to bear the brunt of the toxic waste that's emitted from these facilities," said Kelley.

Kelley was working as an actor in California when he decided to take on a new role.  He stayed in Port Arthur to help people living near the refineries.  And he discovered that large amounts of toxins were being released into the air.

"I found that a lot of people were ill, usually cancer-related, and there were a large number of kids with respiratory problems," added Kelley.   

He learned about polices governing industrial pollution, and stepped up to lead the local movement to clean up Port Arthur.

"I noticed when I went back there to visit initially that no one seemed to be doing anything about this problem," recalled Kelley.  "So I decided that I would take it upon myself to do what I could to bring attention to the matter, and start to fight these big polluters head-on to do what I could to get the emission reductions that were needed."

Kelley trained locals to measure air quality.

"I started educating the public on what was going on, and how they were being taken advantage of, and how they were being systematically poisoned," Kelley added.

In 2006, Motiva Enterprises, a subsidiary of the giant Shell Oil company, announced it was expanding its Port Arthur facility.

Kelley convinced Motiva to start a $3.5 million fund to increase pollution controls and promote economic revitalization in the area.

He also led a campaign to stop another company from importing toxic liquids from Mexico for incineration at its Port Arthur plant.

"We did not want that toxic stuff released into our environment and so we fought tooth and nail to get it stopped," said Kelley.

Kelley is one of six environmentalists from different parts of the world who received the annual Goldman Award, along with 150,000 dollars.  He says he will use part of the money to continue his fight.

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid