Archive for April 2nd, 2019

KMCO fire again blackens the skies in Crosby, TX – Photo by KHOU
Note: Today, an explosion and fire erupted at the KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, near Houston. One person is dead, one person is missing and multiple people have suffered injuries. The incident follows recent chemical fires in Texas that have led to public health and safety concerns.  

Statement of Stephanie Thomas, Public Citizen’s Houston Researcher and Organizer.

Enough is enough. 

Today’s incident in Crosby is the third chemical fire in recent weeks, highlighting the insidious nature of corporate pollution in the Houston area and many other areas in the country. We no longer can accept a culture that places profits before people.  

The Texas state government has a record of lax enforcement, and the Trump administration is rolling back necessary protections for workers and people living and working in the shadow of chemical plants.

These sequential disasters highlight the dire need for more and better protections for these fence line communities. Polluters should not get a free pass to pollute our communities and harm our neighbors. 

How many disasters must our communities endure before our elected officials wake up to the need for better protections? How many people need to fear for their health and safety? How many workers must be injured or killed for government to act? 

The time to act is now.

The House Environmental Regulation, and Homeland Security & Public Safety Committees are holding a joint hearing on Friday at the Capitol on the #ITCDisaster (they call it the ITC incident). This hearing will be for invited testimony only but you can stream it live – https://house.texas.gov/video-audio/

Don’t think an “invited testimony only” hearing is good enough? Contact your Texas Representative and Senator and tell them they should hold a public hearing in Houston to allow those impacted by these disastrous accidents to testify. #TxLege

Read Full Post »

A pair of bills under consideration in the Texas Legislature would diminish some free speech protections for Texans, and today Public Citizen joined other First Amendment champions to speak out on the legislation.

In essence, Public Citizen’s fears that HB 2730, sponsored by Republican Rep. Jeff Leach of Plano, would seriously undermine critical free speech safeguards for Texans who participate in public discussions about businesses and political issues.

Such speech is currently protected by the Texas Citizens Participation Act – commonly known as TCPA, and also known as the Texas anti-SLAPP law. Adrian Shelley, Public Citizen’s Texas office director, and Public Citizen attorney Paul Levy submitted written testimony to the committee today that elaborates on our position. Shelley also testified in person during today’s hearing.

Michelle L., a Florida woman who raised health alarms about a medical study she had participated in before becoming wary of the program also spoke out on the bill today. Michelle was sued in Houston (where her LLC was located) for raising public concerns about the medical study. Public Citizen’s lawyers took on her case pro bono and prevailed in part by using the TCPA law that Leach and others want to modify.

“The TCPA (law) is ultimately what helped,” Lanham told the House Judiciary Committee. “People are scared to talk and this is very important.”

You can read the official Public Citizen testimony in opposition to HB 2730 below.

Read Full Post »