Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Price of Oil in Texas

From today's NY Times:

Texas refines more than a quarter of America’s gasoline and are the largest onshore producers of both petroleum and natural gas. Texas is owed a debt of gratitude for shouldering so much of the burden of pollution and the risk of handling dangerous chemicals and fuels.

"Harris County, which includes Houston, reports more toxic releases to the Environmental Protection Agency than any other county in the United States. The region along the Gulf Coast is home to 250 petrochemical plants, and in Houston alone, an estimated 78,000 kids go to school within two miles of a refinery or chemical plant. Between 1995 and 2005, 27 of the 48 Americans who died in accidents at major refineries were from Texas. Oil provides a paycheck for many Texas families, but refineries also pollute their air and water, and cause them to worry about their safety....The level of carcinogens released in the processing of a barrel of oil is higher in Texas than anywhere else in the country, said Eric Schaeffer, a former regulator for the E.P.A. who’s now with the Environmental Integrity Project."

View video of the Texas City disaster, made by the United States Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. It shows a minute-by-minute reconstruction of flammable liquids overwhelming the plant’s safety devices and eventually blowing up.

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