TagLouisiana Bucket Brigade

How lax regs, low taxes power Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley’


As an environmental lawyer with close ties to Louisiana’s ever-growing community of local activists fighting on the same issues, I’ve been sounding the alarm about the state’s so-called Cancer Alley — the web of massive petrochemical plants lining the lower Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to below New Orleans — for years. The small river towns between those two cities —...

A small Louisiana town is fighting pollution — and winning


I’ve written a lot over the last decade about Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” the stretch along the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge down past New Orleans that’s practically wall-to-wall with the bright red flares and shiny steel tangled guts of chemical plants and oil refineries that exploit the rich natural resources of my native state. The non-stop pollution of the air and water that led to the...

How Louisiana missed a large oil spill


One issue that’s come up repeatedly since I launched this website seven years ago has been the multiple failings of Louisiana’s state environmental regulators, especially when it comes to reining in the state’s powerful oil and natural gas interests. For decades, under both Republican and Democratic governors, the regulatory agencies in Baton Rouge haven’t been up to snuff...

Louisiana citizens wise up to pipeline dangers


For most of the last eight decades or so that Big Oil’s had its way with the state of Louisiana, it was rare — unheard of, really — for local residents to oppose an energy-related project. For most folks, environmentalism — opposing new drilling or unsightly pipelines in your backyard — was something that maybe “the Yankees” did, but not Louisianans. And...

Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley’ is getting more toxic


In a perfect world, humankind would be winning the war against toxic air pollution. After all, it’s been almost 44 years since the first Earth Day and the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That was supposed to mark the end of an era when smokestacks belching toxins into the American sky was considered a sign of economic health and not an indicator of cancer and other...

The people of ‘Cancer Alley’ are fighting back


Suddenly, chemical plants in Louisiana were in the news last week. That’s understandable — two explosions on back-to-back days in Geismar and Donaldsonville in the very heart of “Cancer Alley” not only killed three people and sent others to the hospital but made for dramatic television, as smoke billowed into the bayou air as if set off by a massive bomb (and there was a...

“Cancer Alley” is on fire — where were the watchmen?


It was a terrible week on Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley.” This narrow strip of the bayou country between New Orleans and Baton Rouge is home to more chemical plants and refineries than just about any area in the world, let alone the United States. Over the decades, these plants have been a source of both jobs and income for a state in desperate need of both. But as the nickname...

Good news: Another watchdog for Louisiana and the Gulf


If there is any state in the country that is in serious need of good watchdog journalism, it would be my home state of Louisiana. Sure, our Sportsmen’s Paradise has been celebrated for its colorful pols dating all the way back to Huey Long and the barely fictional “All the King’s Men,” but the reality is that too often “colorful” has been a euphemism for...

ExxonMobil — already in hot water for AK spill — blamed for New Orleans stench


This would not be the week that you’d want to begin work in the ExxonMobil PR department. Indeed, this seems to be the time when the oil giant — in fact, the world’s most profitable company, let us never forget — and its proverbial chickens are finally coming home to roost. Just in time for Earth Day, ExxonMobil’s environment-be-damned efforts to feed America’s...

La. needs to get to bottom of the sinkhole and radiation


It was just yesterday that I was sharing with you the new scientific data that even exposure to what has been considered low doses of radiation can be harmful. In particular, I mentioned the long-standing — but not always well-understood — issue of so-called Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material, or NORM. This is a radioactive by-product of the oil-production process; for years it...

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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