Julie Dermansky's blog

Years After EPA Cited Health Risks From Chemical Plant, Is Enough Being Done to Protect its Louisiana Neighbors?

Read time: 10 mins
Denka Performance Elastomer plant, located in LaPlace, Louisiana.

What should be done about a chemical plant in Louisiana’s St. John the Baptist Parish that releases chloroprene — a chemical so toxic that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined nearby residents face the highest risk in the country of developing cancer from air pollution?

Still No Evacuation Plan for Vulnerable Residents at End of Louisiana’s Bayou Bridge Pipeline

Read time: 6 mins
Ethel M. Harris, a long-time resident of St. James, Louisiana

Sharon Lavigne and Geraldine Mayho took me to meet some of the most vulnerable members of their community, handicapped residents of St. James, Louisiana, who live near a terminal where the Bayou Bridge pipeline will end. “These people have no way of getting out if there is a spill or explosion,” Lavigne told me. She explained with only one road in and out of the area, if the pipeline fails or an industrial accident occurs, “we are all trapped back here.” 

Court Reaffirms Bayou Bridge Pipeline OK to Cut Through America’s Largest River Swamp

Read time: 6 mins
Julie Dermansky standing on a cypress tree stump in the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana

A day before a federal court reaffirmed Bayou Bridge LLC could keep building an oil pipeline through Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin, I stood on a cypress tree stump there, viewing the destroyed trees which pipeline opponents were trying to save. 

On both sides of the Bayou Bridge pipeline’s right-of-way, a path of shredded trees cut through the massive river swamp — the nation’s largest — home to abundant wildlife and fishing grounds for wild crawfish. 

In Louisiana's Vanishing Wetlands, a Promise of Ecotourism That Locals Say Reeks of Greenwashing

Read time: 8 mins
Metal pelican on a dock in Manchac, Louisiana

Manchac, Louisiana, is located on a narrow strip of land between two brackish lakes, surrounded by cypress trees and abundant wildlife. About 43 miles northwest of New Orleans, Manchac’s picturesque wetlands — like the rest of Louisiana’s coast — are endangered, with their latest threat, according to some, coming from a resort-style development marketed as “ecotourism” and local economic savior.

What could be wrong with building a hotel and housing development for 2,000 people in environmentally sensitive wetlands, which by their very nature, are located in a flood zone?

Under Scrutiny for Astroturfing Campaign, Entergy Takes Heat for Missed Clean Energy Goals and Power Outages

Read time: 8 mins
Site where Entergy Plans to build a natural gas power plant in New Orleans East

At a June 28 meeting, New Orleans regulators put the city’s public utility Entergy in the hot seat over increasing power outages and slow progress on clean energy goals. City councilmembers showed little patience for the embattled company, which currently is under investigation for its role in paying actors to show support for its proposed $210 million natural gas power plant, approved by the council on March 8.

Louisiana Homeowner Left to Hold Bayou Bridge Pipeline Accountable for Damaging her Home

Read time: 8 mins
Melinda Tillies on her porch, in view of Bayou Bridge pipeline construction

Melinda Tillies learned about the controversial Bayou Bridge pipeline the day its construction began next to her home a couple months ago. As workers prepared the site for the pipeline, the activity made it feel like an earthquake had struck her home, she said, waking her family as their home shook on its foundation, cracking walls and dislodging tiles.

Tillies lives in Youngsville, Louisiana, a suburb of Lafayette. She purchased her dream house just over a year ago, but now she regrets buying it. “The pipeline is way too close to my house for comfort. If I had any idea there would be a pipeline built next to my house, I wouldn't have bought it,” she told me. 

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