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Defending Fenceline Communities From Oil Refinery Pollution

A child plays in Hartman Park, in Houston, TX's Manchester neighborhood. The park, which borders residential homes, is adjacent to a Valero oil refinery.

A child plays in Hartman Park, in Houston, TX's Manchester neighborhood. The park, which borders residential homes, is adjacent to a Valero oil refinery.

Eric Kayne / Earthjustice

What's at Stake

Oil refineries emit egregious amounts of toxic air pollution that seriously jeopardizes the health of people who live nearby.

Earthjustice is representing many of these fenceline communities in a lawsuit to get oil refineries to clean up their dirty ways.

Case Overview

In Port Arthur, TX, babies start life with a higher risk for cancer and other diseases, thanks in no small part to the numerous dirty oil refineries that also reside in Port Arthur. More than a hundred communities across the country, often home to low-income residents and people of color, face similar dangers.

Refineries can do a lot to clean up their pollution and reduce the toxic burden shouldered by people living on the other side of facility fences. Modern pollution control technology exists and is widely available. Yet, industry largely refuses to voluntarily clean up its pollution until the EPA sets mandatory safeguards.

Earthjustice sued the EPA for its neglect in delaying long-overdue standards to reduce cancer-causing and other health-damaging pollutants from oil refineries. With our ally Environmental Integrity Project, our clients and partners include seven community organizations that represent Americans who suffer from oil refinery pollution.

Case ID


Case Updates

October 21, 2014 | Feature

Map: Oil Refineries in the United States

Everyone has the right to breathe clean air—and that right is being denied to millions of Americans living in the shadows of nearly 150 oil refineries across the United States. Are you one of 7 million at risk? Find the oil refinery near you.

August 11, 2014 | Blog Post

The Need to Fight for Michigan’s Dirtiest Zip Code

On April 27, 2013, thick, black smoke rose high above southwest Detroit from the flames at a nearby industrial facility. Three thousand residents were then ordered to leave their homes and evacuate the area. These residents are no stranger to poor air quality as their neighbors include a coal-fired power plant, a car factory, a water waste management plant, and the Marathon Ashland Petroleum oil refinery, one of 150 oil refineries in the country.

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