Chase Porter

  • Hosted by Lone Star Legal Aid
  • Sponsored by Texas Access to Justice Foundation
  • Service location Houston, Texas
  • Law school The University of Texas School of Law
  • Issue area Environmental Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2020
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Chase fights for environmental justice and community development in industrial communities on Texas’ Gulf Coast.

Texas’ seaports and large coastal industrial facilities have entered a period of growth. Their neighboring low-income and minority neighborhoods, which have long carried the burden of industry’s negative externalities without sharing in the prosperity, are under threat to be further left behind. These communities continue to suffer from high pollution, are crisscrossed by busy rail lines and truck routes, and despite their neighbors’ success, have continued high rates of unemployment and underdevelopment.

Chase was inspired to dig into the issues facing underdeveloped coastal communities when participating in a law school clinic. When he visited a port community to educate local leaders on their opportunities to advocate for themselves, he witnessed firsthand the daily challenges they face. Chase previously served as an Equal Justice Works Fellow in the Disaster Recovery Legal Corps.

Fellowship Highlights to Date

In the first year of the Fellowship, Chase has:

  • Provided direct legal representation to a community group and to individual clients spanning six different vulnerable port communities, which included participating in impact litigation and comments to state and federal agencies regarding permits for industrial facilities and strengthening of public participation processes
  • Conducted virtual and in-person outreach viewed or attended by 1800 individuals, developed educational materials that were distributed over 1200 times, and conducted two presentations to over 170 other public interest advocates
  • Completed a comprehensive community needs survey and assessment in a port community, which will be used to guide the implementation of a major community development project in the next year
  • Obtained changes to Texas’ environmental enforcement policy which will help protect environmental justice communities across Texas
  • Regularly participated in a coalition of over 15 public interest organizations working together to further environmental and economic justice along the Texas Gulf Coast

Next Steps

In the next year, Chase plans to:

  • Continue to directly represent individuals and community groups in transactional work and environmental and economic justice
  • Perform frequent outreach and community education to build relationships with more individuals and organizations in vulnerable port communities and strengthen their advocacy skills
  • Develop and pilot an “all about ports” educational curriculum, which can continue to be utilized in environmental justice communities after the fellowship
  • Engage with regulatory agencies at the local, state, and national level to strengthen protections and opportunities via direct legal representation and other means

Despite being illuminated by the bright lights of the 24 hours a day operations of their industrial neighbors, adjacent communities often do not receive nearly the attention and respect they deserve.

Chase Porter /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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