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‘Climate Denial Is Not a Victimless Crime’ - Greenpeace Response to Hurricane Laura

WASHINGTON - Early this morning, Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Cameron, Louisiana, roughly 30 miles east of the Texas border. Officials predicted a massive storm surge that could reach up to 40 miles inland, and more than 600,000 homes and businesses have already lost power. 

In response, Greenpeace USA Climate Campaign Director Janet Redman said:

“The devastation wrought by Hurricane Laura is staggering. Our greatest concern is for the people across the Gulf Coast whose homes, families, and livelihoods will be forever changed by this storm. Hurricane Laura—as well as the climate-intensified wildfires raging in California—is undeniable proof that the climate crisis is here. Trump’s utter failure to contain COVID-19 has combined with his administration’s dangerous climate denial to create an unprecedented emergency. People across the country are reeling from the health and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, but Trump is rolling back climate protections, defunding FEMA, and bailing out fossil fuel corporations. 

“As is so often the case, Black, Brown, Indigenous, and working-class communities will feel the impacts of Trump’s failures the hardest. These communities are most likely to live near toxic facilities vulnerable to flooding—like the hundreds of oil refineries and petrochemical plants in the Gulf South that evacuated ahead of Hurricane Laura—and often have the fewest means to rebuild when disasters strike. Long before Trump entered office, oil and gas CEOs predicted this would be the result of their unfettered industry. Climate denial is not a victimless crime, and it’s time for the fossil fuel industry to be held accountable. We demand that the oil and gas companies responsible for fueling the climate crisis pay for community recovery from this disaster.”

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From Houston, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS) Founder and Co-Executive Director Juan Parras said:

"It feels like we're living Hurricane Harvey all over again. Communities from the East End of Houston and all the way down to Baytown, Texas deal with year-round toxic air pollution from refineries and petrochemical complexes, and they're suffering from higher rates of COVID-19 right now. With Hurricane Laura's impact, these facilities are emitting even more life-threatening pollutants. Local officials may have turned off all air quality monitors in the area, arguing that they're 'too expensive' to replace, but we can still smell the chemicals. Fossil fuel and petrochemical corporations are more worried about protecting their profits than our health."

During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, reports filed by companies to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) show that more than 5.7 million pounds of air pollution were released by chemical plants, oil refineries, and industrial facilities in the month after the storm made landfall. Ninety percent of this air pollution was released by just 13 companies.

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