Julie Dermansky's blog

Pastor Leads Lawsuit Opposing Bayou Bridge Pipeline to Protect Louisiana Cancer Alley Community

Pastor Harry Joseph in front of oil storage tanks in St. James, Louisiana

Pastor Harry Joseph of the Mount Triumph Baptist Church in St. James, Louisiana, is taking legal action to prevent the Bayou Bridge pipeline from being built in his community, roughly 50 miles west of New Orleans. He is named as a plaintiff in a case filed by the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, petitioning the Parish Court to overturn the coastal permit that the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) gave Energy Transfer Partners, the company that built the controversial Dakota Access pipeline. 

The Bayou Bridge pipeline will be the last leg of the Dakota Access, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana. The final stretch of the project, if built, will span 162.5 miles from Lake Charles to St. James, cutting through the Atchafalaya Basin, a national heritage area and the country’s largest wetland.

Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Residents Push Back Against Industrial Polluters

Concerned citizens sit with signs at a DEQ permit hearing in St. Gabriel

A group of residents in St. Gabriel, a suburb of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is no stranger to industrial pollution. The small town is on the banks of the Mississippi River in a stretch of land between New Orleans and Baton Rouge containing more than 100 petrochemical factories. To the industry, it’s known as the “Petrochemical Corridor,” but to everyone else it’s “Cancer Alley.” This fact is fueling a local drive to stop any new industrial plans that would add to the area’s already heavy pollution burden.

The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) has been assisting the Citizens for a Better St. Gabriel, a citizens group formed with the goal of halting one such company from expanding operations in their neighborhood. 

People’s Climate Movement Shows Strength and Diversity at DC March

Crowd of marchers at Climate March in DC

On Trump’s 100th day in office, over 200,000 people joined the People's Climate March in Washington, D.C., as tens of thousands marched in cities around the world. While the mood in D.C. was festive, people shared a sense of urgency, protesting against Trump’s agenda overturning all the environmental progress of the Obama administration. 

March for Science Organizer: 'Titans' Like Einstein, Galileo, Carson Engaged With Politics

Scientists and supporters carry a banner leading the DC March for Science

On Earth Day, tens of thousands turned out for the March for Science in Washington, D.C., despite the rain, celebrating ideas, facts, and empirical data while chastising climate science deniers.

Celebrity science educator Bill Nye, honorary co-chair of the March for Science, told the crowd, “We are marching today to remind people everywhere, our lawmakers especially, of the significance of science for our health and our prosperity.” The crowd roared their approval when he said they “could change the world.” 

One Community’s Fight for Clean Air in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley

Denka's chloroprene plant in Louisiana

It doesn’t take carefully calibrated measurements to realize there is something wrong with the air around the Denka Performance Elastomer plant in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. 

From a small plane, I photographed the petrochemical manufacturing facility, until recently owned by DuPont, noting its proximity to the community around its fence line. The emissions were horrible. Breathing them while circling the plant twice left me with a headache that lingered for hours.

The surrounding communities and I were inhaling emissions of chloroprene and 28 other chemicals, which the plant uses to make the synthetic rubber commonly known as Neoprene.

Breaking: Louisiana’s Bayou Bridge Pipeline Is One Permit Closer To Reality As Groups Plan Continued Resistance

Protesters marching in the rain and holding anti-pipeline signs

On March 30, heavy rain didn’t stop dozens of people in New Orleans from marching to the offices of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), where they delivered a letter to the agency opposing the Bayou Bridge pipeline.

Yet the group’s actions didn’t stop the DNR from granting the project’s operator, Energy Transfer Partners, the coastal use permit it needed a few days later, on April 3.

The proposed pipeline project is a joint venture with Phillips 66 and Sunoco Logistics. If built, the Bayou Bridge pipeline will be the last leg of Energy Transfer’s Dakota Access pipeline, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota all the way to Louisiana.

However, the company still needs to obtain a water quality certificate from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Protection, and a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before the project can move forward. 

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