Last week Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy graciously made time while visiting Houston to meet with residents of the Manchester community. For decades Manchester has been infamous as a particularly afflicted environmental justice community. During her Texas visit, Administrator McCarthy worked her way through a gauntlet of events that included a visit to the Port of Houston, meetings with children’s health and environmental groups, and serving as a keynote speaker during CERAweek’s energy conference. Her visit to the Manchester community though, was extraordinarilyy intimate. McCarthy met face-to-face with a small group of residents living literally next door to a petroleum refinery. When asked what the EPA is doing to protect the health of fenceline communities like Manchester, she referenced EPA’s forthcoming Refinery Rule that is expected to include fenceline monitoring. She also pointed out that new emission factors will more accurately quantify pollution being emitted from refineries.
Administrator McCarthy stated that she was incredibly impressed by the level of collaboration between the City of Houston, Harris County, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, the EPA Region 6 office, and communities here in Houston. Standing in solidarity with Manchester residents were representatives from Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (t.e.j.a.s.), Air Alliance Houston, Public Citizen, Environmental Defense Fund, Texas Organizing Project (TOP), Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC), Texas Southern University, Gulf South Rising, Healthy Port Communities Coalition, Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition, and several others.