Mossville, at the Crossroads of Environmental Justice and Green Building

Paul Bogart | June 02, 2010 | Newsletter

As I spend my days within a world of data, certifications, lunch and learns, and labels, I often remind myself why I do this for a living. I think of people living on the front lines of industrial production that I hope will one day benefit from my work. People that I have met in communities struggling for the basic right to clean air and uncontaminated water. Communities like Mossville, Louisiana.

Tonight at 8pm eastern on CNN, viewers will have an opportunity to get a sense of the day-to-day reality of life in a community that produces many of the chemical building blocks of our petro-chemical-based economy. "Toxic Towns," an hour-long investigative story hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, looks at Mossville, a small Louisiana community near Lake Charles, that hosts 14 industrial facilities and is in an area known as the "vinyl capital of the world."

Mossville residents suffer from a variety of serious health impacts related to the disproportionate concentration of industrial facilities in their community. Their struggle was first brought to national attention by the 2002 HBO documentary, Blue Vinyl. In March of this year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) ruled in favor of admitting a human rights complaint filed on behalf of the residents of Mossville. It is the first time the commission has taken jurisdiction over an environmental racism case in the United States.

What brought on this unprecedented intervention? Take an hour tonight to take a look at what it really means to live on the fenceline -downwind of the factories that make the plastics with which we build. It may not be the easiest program to watch but if you are like me, it will make you feel better about what you are trying to do.