Environmental Justice – Shutting Down Holly Street Power Plant (Austin,TX.)

July 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

On the occasion of the start of structural demolition of the Holly Street Power Plant, here is a 1994 archival mini-documentary produced by  Rene Renteria  & PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources) which features the story about grassroots organizing to shut down the Holly Power Street Power Plant located in East Austin.
For nearly 30 years, East Austin residents and various community organizations called for the removal of the plant due to public health and safety concerns related to air pollution, extreme noise levels, chemical spills and fires.  The industrial facility was situated in close proximity to homes, parks, schools and churches.

Many regarded the power plant as an example of ‘environmental racism’ and as a symbol of a toxic legacy clearly linked to the City of Austin 1928 Master Plan which institutionalized discriminatory public policies in working-class and people of color communities. Such industrial zoning practices and land use patterns were common in cities across the nation during the Jim Crow era.

This sketch was created for educational purposes and was used at community meetings, workshops and in general helped introduce the issue to various audiences. Video production took place between Spring 1993 and Fall 1994.

In 1995, the Austin City Council voted to retire the plant in stages. After a series of delays and postponements, the plant was completely shut off in September 2007.

This video includes  comments from Robert Donley, chair of the Holly Street Power Plant Closure Committee. He died years before the plant was shut off. 

We see PODER conducting a community health survey and Austin Energy providing a tour of the plant to a small group of community groups.

 More info:

People Organized in Defense of Earth and her Resources

 Susana Almanza: The Life of an Activist

 Activism in the Tradition of Cesar Chavez

East Austin Environmental Justice History

 Relocation of BFI Recycling Center


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