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Texas: Community unites against Exxon Arabia Corp.

Raúl García  |  Issue: July 2017

San Patricio County (TX), which includes the Gregory-Portland area outside of Corpus Christi, was selected recently by Exxon-Arabia Industries Corporation to build the largest petrochemical plant in the world. The plant will be built a mile from the small town of Gregory, which has a Hispanic population of less than 2,000, and from the nearby town of Portland with a majority white population of 10,000.

The significance of this project is that it has given birth to a grassroots organization from both Gregory and Portland in protest against the project. Citizens found out late about the project because corporate officials kept it under wraps for some time. But that did not prevent citizens from attending meetings of the school board or county commissioners in recent weeks. Petitions, posters, rallies and articles came swiftly enough to force officials to bring the matter before the public.

Although other locations such as Victoria, TX, were considered by Exxon-Arabia officials, what tipped the oil company toward the coastal bend area was the $6 million tax break voted by both the Gregory-Portland independent school district board and the Commissioners’ Court. Citizens do not seem to oppose Exxon-Mobil per se, or what it will produce (polyester, anti-freeze, plastics, etc.) but they do oppose its location.

This project comes at a time when there has been much discussion in Corpus of the $900 million Harbor Bridge to replace the present bridge. The new bridge will be higher and longer, which is just right for international trade, say its supporters. The Exxon-Mobile Project in Gregory-Portland will be completed by 2020, while the new Harbor Bridge will be completed in 2024.

The trend of corporations almost at will taking over locations that profit them the most without regard to how they affect communities is quite common all over the world.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations could be recognized as “persons,” such entities have acted as if they have equal rights to human beings, and are protected by law just as real persons. In some cases, they have become more powerful than state. As the freedom of corporations increases, the people’s freedom decreases. This is why resistance movements and revolutions will always be alive.

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