It Started With One Chemical Plant

It Started With One Chemical Plant

a letter from Jack V. Greer, founding member of Mobile Baykeeper

This letter is the opening letter in Mobile Baykeeper's 20th Anniversary Magazine, a publication highlighting the past, present, and future of Mobile Baykeeper in honor of its 20th anniversary in 2017. Click here to view a digital copy of the publication!

Jack and his wife Janice point to the location where the sewage outfall pipe was supposed to be built in the mid 1990s from their home on Mobile Bay's western shore. 

Jack and his wife Janice point to the location where the sewage outfall pipe was supposed to be built in the mid 1990s from their home on Mobile Bay's western shore. 

Jack pictured alongside Robert Kennedy, Jr. when Mobile Baykeeper affiliated with Waterkeeper Alliance in 1999. 

Jack pictured alongside Robert Kennedy, Jr. when Mobile Baykeeper affiliated with Waterkeeper Alliance in 1999. 

Twenty years ago, it suddenly became known that a big development was coming to the west side of Mobile Bay. The folks with homes on Dog River got word of it, and so did the folks with homes on Fowl River. The “powers that be” announced they were going to take over the entire western shore of Mobile Bay for industrial development, primarily for chemical companies. They wanted the east side of the Bay to be primarily residential, and this side of the Bay to be industrial.  

We didn’t like the idea of development over here, but we weren’t too worried about it at first. It wasn’t until they announced plans to construct a sewage outfall pipe in Mobile Bay that made people stand up and do something about it. The pipe was supposed to be 40 feet wide, 80 feet long, and would be built two miles from the mouth of Fowl River.

Executive Director Casi (kc) Callaway and Jack Greer exchange a laugh at the 20th Anniversary Kickoff Party in January of 2017 at the Greer's home. 

Executive Director Casi (kc) Callaway and Jack Greer exchange a laugh at the 20th Anniversary Kickoff Party in January of 2017 at the Greer's home. 

Neighbors called each other up to spread the news, and soon enough we started meeting and formed the Fowl River Protective Association. Eventually, we joined forces with the folks from Dog River and became West Bay Watch. We all met and decided we wanted to fight against this outfall pipe. It wasn’t a popular decision at the time, but we knew it was what we had to do. We fought the Press-Register, the Chamber of Commerce, and the list goes on. We fought everybody.

We hired a lawyer, took them to the Alabama Supreme Court, and we won the case. None of us were really environmentalists; we were just normal people who cared about the bay, our seafood, our property value, and our quality of life. After a while, I think the chemical companies decided this area was a tough one to fight. People here love their homes and they love Mobile Bay. That’s how it all got started. I’m a founding member of Mobile Baykeeper, and proud of it.

"I'm A Founding Member Of Mobile Baykeeper....And Proud Of It." 

Jack, standing alongside his wife Janice, was honored as the recipient of the 2016 Bay Bash Award for his contributions as one of Mobile Baykeeper's founding members and his decades of service to our community. 

Jack, standing alongside his wife Janice, was honored as the recipient of the 2016 Bay Bash Award for his contributions as one of Mobile Baykeeper's founding members and his decades of service to our community. 


As part of our 20th anniversary, we are interviewing founding members of Mobile Baykeeper who have helped the organization evolve into what it has become today. This letter was transcribed from an interview by Mobile Baykeeper staff with Mr. Greer at his home earlier in the year. A print copy of this letter, along with other interviews and stories, can be found here in the digital copy of our 20th anniversary magazine.