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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More