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Community outrage over massive desalination projects helps bind four local candidates challenging the logics of extraction at epicenter of US oil exports.
The four “Clean Slate” candidates running for City Council seats in Corpus Christi are bound by shared values and policy interests—including a prioritization of clean air and water and the defeat of proposed desalination projects being built almost exclusively to benefit industrial users. One is the president of the local teacher’s union. One is a history professor and Sierra Club member. Another helps lead the local League of Women Voters. And our guest on this week’s Deceleration podcast, Armon Alex, is a climate organizer and activist who has worked in a variety of interesting roles highlighting the immense challenge and opportunities of this moment of increasing climate destabilization.
“We meet a machine with a movement,” Alex told Deceleration. “So for me that means we meet a systematic corrupt machine with a people movement. And that’s what we’re doing here.”
Listen in below:
[Learn more about the candidates at the Clean Slate website.]
Certainly, this sort of effort does not arise quickly or easily. The organizing origins is just one of the questions I brought to Alex, who shared much about his own evolution as a community-centered climate activist. Hear our full interview above.
“This campaign and slate of candidates would not be possible without the years of organizing that has gone on in Corpus,” said Brandon Marks, an organizer with Texas Campaign for the Environment based in Corpus Christi. “These are all people who came out of that work.”
Well before TCE’s more recent attention in Corpus, Marks emphasizes, neighborhood groups and coalitions have gathered to teach each other and grow community power.
That power was on display as this podcast was published yesterday when attorneys with Earthjustice filed a Civil Rights complaint on behalf of the Hillcrest Residents Association and members of Citizens Alliance for Fairness and Progress. The group challenged the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the City of Corpus Christi’s plan to locate one of several planned desalination plants in the Hillcrest neighborhood.
“Hillcrest,” the complaint reads, is “right across the fence line from an area known as ‘Refinery Row,’ which houses a dense concentration of refineries. The construction and operational impacts … would exacerbate the existing disproportionate health and safety harms from decades of industrialization, isolation, and pollution in this predominately African American and Hispanic neighborhood.”
Pastor Adam Carrington at the Brooks AME Worship Center said that City leaders are “sacrificing Hillcrest yet again to support industry’s need for additional water” and are proving one more time the City “values profits over Hillcrest residents’ health and quality of life,” according to Dylan Baddour at Inside Climate News.
Corpus is a critical nexus point in the global struggle to slow the climate crisis. In fact, 58 percent of all US domestic crude that flows to the engines of the world does so through the Port of Corpus Christi. And so while Deceleration is in pause-to-regroup moment for a hoped-for relaunch in January we could not sleep on what is happening at the lower end of the San Antonio River.
The Clean Slate effort was recently highlighted by Vox as one of several critical elections in the US this cycle with outsized climatic importance.