“We are followed, photographed and have our license plate numbers taken down,” he said. “We don’t always know who [is watching us]. They drive black cars with tinted windows. There is a security threat [to the petrochemical equipment]. It is easy to walk up to these trains or into the Valero facility. But what we are doing is documenting their negligence. Our concern is for the people who live here and the employees. Do they really think we are going to shut down all these facilities? Houston is built on oil and gas. On top of that we have the endemic racism and colonialism towards Mexicans and Indians, any brown person. This is where Manifest Destiny began.” We met up with other young activists including Yudith Nieto, who was reared in Manchester by her grandparents. She suffers at 26 with an array of health issues including asthma, a damaged thyroid and chronic back pain she suspects is the result of stress and heavy metal contamination. “I can’t afford a toxicologist to tell me if my pain is connected to what I have been exposed to in my environment,” she said. Nieto, Parras and other TEJAS activists, along with fellow activists from across the country, led a series of protests against the now-rejected Keystone XL pipeline, which would have carried tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in or near Houston. “People are afraid to get involved,” Nieto said. “They are poor and often undocumented. Or they have been in and out of the prison system. The Border Patrol carries out raids. We are trying to educate people. We did an air-monitoring project over the summer and into the fall where we collected particulate matter. We go to City Council meetings. But our congressman, Gene Green, is pro-industry. He showed up at a chemical security hearing and said he was there to represent the industry.” Nieto expressed frustration with wealthier, largely white sections of Houston that she said have failed to rally to the defense of her neighborhood and have “tokenize” her and other Mexican-American activists. The activists took me to one of the seedy bars near the port. The sign out front read “Cobetasos,” slang for buckets of beer, and advertised a “Show de Bikini.” Four overweight women danced or drank at the bar with white and Mexican-American laborers. The bars, which prey on the impoverished women and the single men who work in petrochemical industries and on the tanker ships, offer the only signs of human activity late at night. “Those who work in these industries come in from outside Houston,” said Yvette Arellano, also with TEJAS. “They live in cheap motels with a ’20 days on and 20 days off’ schedule. It feels like I never meet another Houstonian. They are from Colorado, the Dakotas or Louisiana. We don’t have man camps. We have motels. These are mostly temporary workers. They are not full time. This creates issues with safety. No one wants to complain about safety when they know they might not have that job if they complain. And so no one says anything.” The 21 international climate summits that have been held over the decades have produced nothing but empty rhetoric, false promises and rising carbon emissions. Paris was no different. We must physically obstruct the extraction, transportation and refining of fossil fuels or face extinction. Those who worship before the idols of profit will use every tool at their disposal, including violence, to crush us. This is a war waged between the forces of life and the forces of death. It is a war that requires us, in every way possible, to deny to these industries the profits used to justify gaiacide. It is a war we must not lose. Wait, before you go…

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