The Oil, Gas, and Chemical industries make up a large position of Louisiana’s economy. Because of this any changes to the current economic landscape will have far lasting impacts for the state. Over the past few weeks, the Biden Administration has kept promises of fighting climate change and the President has already signed two Executive Orders, one to stop leasing to oil and gas companies on federal lands and the second, which was signed earlier this week which puts forth the administration's Climate Plan. In this plan there are goals to lead the country to net-zero Carbon Emissions, another part of the plan could help a large portion of Louisiana that has been hurt by industrial pollution.
”With this executive order, environmental justice will be at the center of all we do addressing the disproportionate health and environmental and economic impacts on communities of color… its hard; the hard hit areas like Cancer Alley in Louisiana or the Route 9 corridor in the state of Delaware.”
Cancer Alley is the stretch of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans where increased rates of cancer and ailments have been tied to toxic emissions from oil and chemical plants. Anne Rolfes the Director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade explains the feeling of hearing this region being acknowledged on the national stage:
“You know look, the abuses have been so tragic and so extreme for so long and again, I think that most people haven’t seen them. But for the last 20 years I have been in these communities, I can see the really unfair concentration of petrochemical facilities in the black community and the toll that has taken. You know, it has destroyed a lot of neighborhoods, a lot of families and people’s health and their lives. So to have the President acknowledge that there is Cancer Alley, acknowledge our problems here is really a game changer considering he has the policy to back it up.”
In the proposed plan, 40% of federal investments would be towards helping these communities and establishing green electricity and technologies. Along with the help and change coming to this region Anne says this is still an issue that affects the entire state:
“It is the Black Community that is in the bullseye of the petrochemical pollution. But, let’s look at a beautiful city like Lake Charles. I mean, that is a beautiful place; you can’t even swim in that lake anymore. Over the years it has become a thing you can’t even fish in and that’s because of industry and so we have these beautiful parts of Louisiana that are now really dead to us and we are all affected Black and White and its why we need to join together and solve this problem.”
From here the Biden Administration is planning to hold a Climate Summit on April 22nd where more will be decided about the path forward to fight Climate Change.
From Baton Rouge, I’m Storm Track 15 Meteorologist Cory Smith