The Biden administration claims to care about the climate crisis but it is currently allowing a dredging project to proceed in the Matagorda shipping channel to open the way for crude oil exports in Texas. Not only will this drive a surge in oil extraction, but it will also increase mercury pollution by digging in a Superfund site left by the aluminum company, Alcoa. The project will decimate the struggling local fishing industry. To stop this project, veteran activist and shrimper, Diane Wilson has been on a hunger strike since April 7. Clearing the FOG speaks with Diane about her current hunger strike and her long fight to protect the waters in her area.
Diane Wilson is an American environmental activist, an anti-war activist, and an author. In 1989 she was a shrimp boat captain in Calhoun County, Texas, and she saw an Associated Press article saying that the county had the most toxic waste disposal of all counties in America. Wilson began a campaign against Formosa Plastics, a Taiwanese chemical company then building a PVC (polyvinyl chloride) facility near her town, with tactics including several hunger strikes and sinking her own boat to draw attention to the matter. In 1994 she won “zero discharge” agreements (meaning no liquid effluent discharge into the environment) from Formosa and Alcoa.
She has received the “Hellraiser of the Month” award from Mother Jones magazine, and a number of other awards, including National Fisherman Magazine Award, Louis Gibbs’ Environmental Lifetime Award, Louisiana Environmental Action (LEAN) Environmental Award, Giraffe Project, Jenifer Altman Award and the Bioneers Award.
In 2006, she was honored with the Blue Planet Award from Ethecon Foundation, one of the comparatively very few ‘grass-root’ foundations for “more than 20 years of commitment to environmental issues, even putting her life at risk.”
In 2013, Wilson participated in the movement to close Guantanamo Bay, calling for Obama to release the prisoners that had been declared for release, give the men a fair trial, and end indefinite detention. Most notably, she stood in solidarity with the hunger strikers by fasting on salt and water for 58 days. Her fast ended on June 26, 2013 on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture after jumping the White House fence at a Close Guantanamo protest (with groups including Amnesty International, CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, and Witness Against Torture) in an attempt to deliver a letter to President Barack Obama. Wilson was charged with unlawful entry and handed over to local authorities.
In 2019, she was a plaintiff to a suit, Waterkeeper v. Formosa, against Formosa Plastics for violations of the Clean Water Act resulting in discharges of pollution along the Texas coast. Along with other volunteers, she collected millions of nurdles that served as evidence in the case. The suit was settled for $50 million in October 2019.