Louisiana

Climate Change Compounds Louisiana Flooding Threat a Year After Historic Floods

Flooded homes in Louisiana in 2016

It was eerie to watch images of New Orleans’ flooding almost a year after the Baton Rouge flood,” Tam Williams, a videographer who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, told me. Every time it rains, she is a bit on edge, wondering if her city is going to flood again. 

A week before the anniversary of last summer’s 1,000-year flood in Baton Rouge, rain inundated New Orleans, with more than 9 inches falling in only three hours. 

Louisiana’s Cancer Alley Residents Sue Chemical Plant for Nearly 50 Years of Air Pollution

Three African American men in red t-shirts from the Concerned Citizens of St. John Louisiana stand by a sign warning of cancer risk from chloroprene emissions

If you drive along one of the main streets in Louisiana’s St. John the Baptist Parish, you may encounter a large sign warning about chloroprene in the air. These signs let people know that chemical emissions from the nearby DuPont facility, now owned by Denka, can greatly increase the risk of cancer for those who live around it. 

We are being killed by chemicals that the state is allowing Denka and DuPont to pollute our air with,” Robert Taylor, founder of Concerned Citizens of St. John, told me while the group posted the signs. “Putting up signs is one of the steps we are taking, so that later no one can say they didn’t know we are being poisoned.”

Taylor, a 76-year-old retired general contractor, is one of 13 plaintiffs suing Denka Performance Elastomer and E.I. du Pont de Nemours (DuPont), the companies responsible for the chloroprene emissions fouling the air in LaPlace and nearby towns for 48 years. The plant is located along the Mississippi River on a stretch of land between New Orleans and Baton Rouge known as Cancer Alley. 

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. 

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.

While One Louisiana Town's Lead-Tainted Water System Is Replaced, Dozens of Others Deteriorate

A man fills a glass with dirty water from his kitchen sink faucet

For years the discolored water delivered to the northern Louisiana delta town of St. Joseph resembled what one would expect to find in a third-world country. But it wasn’t until high levels of lead were discovered in the town’s municipal water system that work began to replace it. 

On March 6, Louisiana Gov. John Bell Edwards, along with local officials and state lawmakers, attended a groundbreaking ceremony for St. Joseph's new water system, wielding symbolic golden shovels in the parking lot next to city hall. 

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy Pushes Natural Gas as Climate Solution at Contentious Town Hall Meetings

Sen. Cassidy in front of a crowd at a public meeting

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy's constituents packed emotionally charged town hall meetings across the state during Congress’ February break, a trend seen in other meetings with lawmakers around the country. 

At Sen. Cassidy’s first town hall in Denham Springs, which was ground zero for the 1,000 year flood that devastated parts of southern Louisiana last year, the senator focused on flood recovery efforts.

While Sen. Cassidy mentioned that lowering greenhouse gas emissions would “theoretically” be good for sea level rise, he failed to connect climate change to the region’s extreme floods. Instead, he praised President Donald Trump’s goals of bringing back manufacturing jobs to the United States, which could then be powered by the nation’s natural gas reserves.

What This Outsider With Hidden Conflicts of Interest Can Learn From A Local About the Bayou Bridge Pipeline

This is a guest op-ed by Steve Wilkerson, a U.S. Army Veteran from Louisiana.

On February 8th, 2017, a retired Major General by the name of James “Spider” Marks spoke at a public hearing in Napoleonville, held by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources regarding the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

On the same day he also published an opinion article in The Advertiser that was highly misleading. It claimed that opponents to both the Dakota Access Pipeline and the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline are outsiders from other states. This is an interesting and hypocritical position to take, as “Spider” Marks himself lives in Virginia and is neither a native Louisianan, nor is he a resident of Louisiana; yet here he is involving himself and meddling in the affairs of our state.

Clash Over the Bayou Bridge Pipeline Ratchets up After Louisiana Pipeline Explosion

Opponents of the Bayou Bridge pipeline hold signs and march to a permit hearing

On February 13 environmental advocates urged Louisiana agencies to deny permits for the Bayou Bridge pipeline at a press conference in front of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) office in Baton Rouge. 

Five days earlier, a Phillips 66 natural gas pipeline in Paradis, Louisiana, exploded, presumably killing one worker and injuring two. The explosion occurred one night after the Louisiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held a public permit hearing for the Bayou Bridge oil pipeline at a community center in Napoleonville, Louisiana.

Battle Against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline Threatens to Become the Standing Rock of Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin

A woman holds a sign protesting the Bayou Bridge pipeline before a permit hearing in Louisiana

At a permit hearing for the Bayou Bridge pipeline held January 12 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, opponents warned that if a permit is granted, the battle to stop the pipeline could turn the Atchafalaya Basin into the next Standing Rock. 

The reason is that Energy Transfer Partners’ proposed Bayou Bridge pipeline, if built, isn't just any pipeline; it would be the tail end of the controversial Dakota Access route, cutting through the heart of Louisiana’s Cajun Country.

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