Tea with the Toxic Avenger

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The smog in Texas is thicker than I remember. Flying over on my broom, I saw the vast expansion of factory farms and the alarming murkiness of connected bodies of water, some glowing slick neon colors that have no business being in nature. The nearly 3 million beef cattle, 1.1 million hogs, 330,000 dairy cows, 90.4 million broiler chickens, and 13.8 million egg-laying hens on factory farms in Texas produce as much untreated manure as 430 million people — more than the entire U.S. population. Texas’ booming bullshit industry wrought havoc at the West Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, where an explosion on April 17, 2013 killed 14 people, left 200 others with injuries (including burns, lacerations, and broken bones), flattened houses and a 50-unit apartment building, destroyed a nursing home, damaged a local school, and left a crater 93 feet by 10 feet deep. This weekend, at least 170,000 gallons of oil spilled in the Galveston Bay, shutting down the waterways between contaminated Texas rivers and the Gulf of BP. The southern leg of the Keystone Pipeline that went into normal operation in January 2014 is bringing up to 700,000 barrels of oil a day to refineries in Texas, despite the years-long fight against this tar-sands nightmare. Environmentalists and residents of Parker County, Texas, were dismayed last year when the EPA dropped an investigation into complaints that hydraulic fracking by Range Resources was contaminating local water supplies with methane.

What happens when the People fight back?

The State of Texas boasts lax regulations and suppresses the outcries of the citizens victimized by the corporate greed controlling both media and legislation. Frustrated by the pervasive culture of silence surrounding folks in the direct line of industrial fire, I sat down with my dear friend, Phyllis Glazer, and asked her to share the story of the time she sued the EPA and shut down one chemical plant poisoning her small-town in East Texas. I pooped my pants a few times during the production, once from the story and then again from drinking Dallas water. Seriously, hydrate with Pellegrino and coconuts when you’re there. A gas mask might not be a bad idea, either.

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