Tag Archives: Louisiana

‘When We Drill, We Spill’: Climate-Fueled Ida Behind Suspected Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico

“This is yet another reminder of the major risks posed by offshore drilling for dirty, dangerous fossil fuels we increasingly don’t need.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-2-2021

Photos captured by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aircraft August 31, 2021 and reviewed by the Associated Press show a miles-long black slick floating in the Gulf of Mexico near a large rig. (Photo: NOAA via AP)

As Louisiana residents and officials begin the recovery process in the wake of Hurricane Ida, environmental campaigners responded Thursday to reporting of a suspected oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by saying such scenes “are reminders that when we drill, we spill.”

“On top of the devastation that people are still experiencing onshore, we are now learning about an oil slick in the Gulf, not far from the Louisiana coast,” said Kelsey Lamp, Protect our Oceans campaign director with Environment America, in a statement. Continue reading

Share Button

Experts Warn of ‘Potentially Catastrophic’ Destruction as Hurricane Ida Reaches New Orleans

The storm is expected to be one of the strongest ever to hit Louisiana, rivaling Hurricane Laura in 2020.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-29-2021

These two pictures were taken less than two hours apart in New Orleans on August 29, 2021. Photo:
Laila Vanessa Stuvik/Twitter

Weather experts on Sunday said their worst-case-scenario predictions about Hurricane Ida, which damaged homes and knocked down trees in Cuba on Friday, appeared to be coming true as the tropical cyclone made its way towards New Orleans with winds rushing at 150 miles per hour.

The hurricane made landfall Sunday afternoon in southeastern Louisiana.Thousands of people had evacuated on Saturday. Continue reading

Share Button

‘Hard to Imagine Worse Idea’: Biden to Resume Fossil Fuel Leases on Public Lands and Waters

“The president made a promise to ban all new oil and gas leasing on public lands and waters,” said Greenpeace, “and the American people expect him to keep it.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams.  Published 8-17-2021

Off shore oil rig drilling in Santa Catalina Channel. Photo: arbyreed/flickr/CC

Climate groups are expressing deep concern following an Interior Department announcement Monday that the Biden administration will resume oil and gas drilling leases on public lands and waters—a practice President Joe Biden vowed to ban during his 2020 run for the White House—in response to a federal court ruling.

While the Biden administration confirmed in its announcement that an appeal has been filed with the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in a legal battle with the state of Louisiana—which sued the federal government over the pause in the oil and gas leasing program ordered by Biden earlier this year—the Interior Department said leasing would resume while the process plays out. Continue reading

Share Button

I told lawmakers about my stillborn child – and helped pass a key bill

Louisiana has approved a law that will alleviate the emotional and financial burdens for bereaved families. The rest of the US should follow suit

By Joni Hess.  Published 7-26-2021 by openDemocracy

Illustration: Inge Snip

I drove an hour and a half to the Louisiana state capitol building in Baton Rouge, on 26 April, to tell legislators about my daughter Eliana.

On the journey, I kept thinking to myself: would I be able to do this? I had rarely spoken about what had happened. Now, I was about to do so before strangers who had the power to vote ‘no’ on a bill that could help many other women like me.

Eliana weighed 5 pounds, 4 ounces when she was born on 8 February 2019. In my hospital bed, I held her tightly, fighting back tears so they wouldn’t cloud my final views of her face. Sometime that morning, she had passed away in utero. We never found out why.

Continue reading

Share Button

‘This Is a Scandal’: Documents Reveal Obama’s EPA Approved Toxic Chemicals for Fracking in 2011

“We still don’t know the full extent of toxic chemicals that companies are using in their fracking operations. Why is the EPA allowing them to poison our communities without consequence?”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-12-2021

A fracking rig behind a housing development Photo: WildEarth Guardians/flickr/CC

Between 2012 and 2020, fossil fuel corporations injected potentially carcinogenic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), or chemicals that can degrade into PFAS, into the ground while fracking for oil and gas, after former President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency approved their use despite agency scientists’ concerns about toxicity.

The EPA’s approval in 2011 of three new compounds for use in oil and gas drilling or fracking that can eventually break down into PFAS, also called “forever chemicals,” was not publicized until Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) obtained internal records from the agency through a Freedom of Information Act request, the New York Times reported Monday after reviewing the files.

According to PSR’s new reportFracking with “Forever Chemicals, oil and gas companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and others engaged in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have since 2012 pumped toxic chemicals that can form PFAS into more than 1,200 wells in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, and Wyoming.

While the Times noted that the newly released documents constitute some of the earliest evidence of the possible presence of PFAS in fracking fluids, PSR’s report warns that “the lack of full disclosure of chemicals used in oil and gas operations raises the potential that PFAS could have been used even more extensively than records indicate, both geographically and in other stages of the oil and gas extraction process, such as drilling, that precede the underground injections known as fracking.”

“It’s very disturbing to see the extent to which critical information about these chemicals is shielded from public view,” Barbara Gottlieb, PSR’s Environment & Health Program director, said Monday in a press release. “The lack of transparency about fracking chemicals puts human health at risk.”

As the Times reported:

In a consent order issued for the three chemicals on Oct. 26, 2011, EPA scientists pointed to preliminary evidence that, under some conditions, the chemicals could “degrade in the environment” into substances akin to PFOA, a kind of PFAS chemical, and could “persist in the environment” and “be toxic to people, wild mammals, and birds.” The EPA scientists recommended additional testing. Those tests were not mandatory and there is no indication that they were carried out.

“The EPA identified serious health risks associated with chemicals proposed for use in oil and gas extraction, and yet allowed those chemicals to be used commercially with very lax regulation,” Dusty Horwitt, a researcher at PSR, told the newspaper.

In a statement released Monday, Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, called the PSR report “alarming,” and said it “confirms what hundreds of scientific studies and thousands of pages of data have already shown over the last decade: fracking is inherently hazardous to the health and safety of people and communities in proximity to it, and it should be banned entirely.”

As PSR notes, PFAS—highly potent toxins that accumulate in the body and persist in the environment—pose a threat to human and environmental well-being. Negative health effects linked to PFAS include low infant birth weights, disruptions of the immune and reproductive systems, and cancer.

“The potential that these chemicals are being used in oil and gas operations should prompt regulators to take swift action to investigate the extent of this use, pathways of exposure, and whether people are being harmed,” said Linda Birnbaum, board-certified Ph.D. toxicologist and former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Hauter added that “this says nothing of the dreadful impact fossil fuel extraction and burning is having on our runaway climate crisis. Fracking threatens every person on the planet, directly or indirectly.”

According to the Times:

In a 2016 report, the EPA identified more than 1,600 chemicals used in drilling and fracking, or found in fracking wastewater, including close to 200 that were deemed carcinogens or toxic to human health. The same EPA report warned that fracking fluid could escape from drill sites into the groundwater and that leaks could spring from underground wells that store millions of gallons of wastewater.

Communities near drilling sites have long complained of contaminated water and health problems that they say are related. The lack of disclosure on what sort of chemicals are present has hindered diagnoses or treatment. Various peer-reviewed studies have found evidence of illnesses and other health effects among people living near oil and gas sites, a disproportionate burden of which fall on people of color and other underserved or marginalized communities.

“The Obama-Biden administration approved the use of toxic PFAS chemicals for fracking a decade ago,” said Hauter, “and all these years later, President Joe Biden’s practices haven’t seemed to change a bit.”

“The Biden administration has claimed to be concerned about PFAS contamination throughout the country,” Hauter said. “Biden himself pledged during the campaign to halt new fracking on federal lands. Meanwhile, this administration is approving new fracking permits at a pace similar to Trump, with no letup in sight.”

Earlier this month, whistleblowers at the EPA accused the Biden administration of continuing the “war on science,” with managers at the agency allegedly modifying reports about the risks posed by chemicals and retaliating against employees who report the misconduct.

As Common Dreams reported, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a formal complaint on behalf of four scientists with the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General, demanding an investigation into reports that high-level employees routinely delete crucial information from chemical risk assessments or change the documents’ conclusions to give the impression that the chemicals in question are safer.

Calling Monday’s revelations about the Obama administration’s decision to greenlight the use of PFAS in fracking “a scandal that should lead every nightly news program,” Jamie Henn, co-founder of 350.org and director of Fossil Free Media, noted that “we still don’t know the full extent of toxic chemicals that companies are using in their fracking operations.”

“Why is the EPA allowing them to poison our communities without conscience?” he asked.

Hauter called on Biden “to immediately make good on his promise to halt new fracking on federal lands,” adding that “his administration must take urgent action to contain the use of PFAS chemicals and their deadly spread into our water and our communities.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
Share Button

Lawmakers Urge Biden to Block Massive Petrochemical Complex in Cancer Alley

“This disastrous project is an affront to environmental justice and contrary to your goals to reduce pollution in frontline communities.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-18-2021

Environmental justice campaigners across the country have spoken out against the proposed Formosa Plastics Complex in Louisiana. (Photo: Louisiana Bucket Brigade/Twitter)

A pair of lawmakers known for fighting for environmental justice in Congress sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday urging President Joe Biden to deliver on his campaign promises to curb pollution in frontline communities by permanently blocking a large petrochemical complex in an area of Louisiana called “Cancer Alley.

Residents of St. James Parish, Louisiana and environmental justice advocates nationwide have come out against the Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group’s plans for a $9.4 billion complex that would release cancer-causing chemicals and, according to one watchdog’s estimate, produce 13.6 million tons of planet-heating emissions per year. Continue reading

Share Button

Federal Court Strikes Down Trump’s ACA Rule Amounting to ‘Intentional, Targeted Attack on Abortion Access’

“It would have created a logistical nightmare for health insurers and individual enrollees and pushed abortion even further out of reach in the midst of a global pandemic that has upended our economy.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-11-2020

Photo: Charlotte Cooper/flickr/CC

A federal court late Friday struck down the Trump administration’s attempt to erect new barriers to abortion care, this time using the for-profit insurance industry.

US District Judge Catherine Blake in Maryland blocked the administration from implementing the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Exchange Program Integrity rule, after Planned Parenthood of Maryland joined several individual plaintiffs in suing the Department of Health and Human Services over the regulation. Continue reading

Share Button

‘Important Step’ as Federal Judge Orders ICE to Release Detained Immigrants at Heightened Risk for COVID-19

“It is unfortunate we had to resort to the courts for this relief; ICE should be doing this on its own,” said the San Francisco public defender.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-9-2020

Photo: Charles Edward Miller/fllickr/CCC

In a ruling celebrated Thursday by rights advocates seeking the liberation of as many detained immigrants as possible during the coronavirus pandemic, a federal judge in San Francisco ordered the release of four men whose respective ages and medical conditions make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

“This decision is an important step,” William Freeman, senior counsel at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, said in a statement. “The stakes for the release of detained persons are at an all-time high as the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak places them at an elevated risk of serious ailments or death.” Continue reading

Share Button

Groups Challenge Louisiana Permits for Formosa Plastics’ Giant Petrochemical Complex in Cancer Alley

“The fight against Formosa’s polluting and unjust petrochemical complex is part of a growing national movement to address the triple threat of climate chaos, plastics pollution, and environmental racism.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-14-2020

Local and national organizations are fighting against a proposed petrochemical complex in St. James Parish, Louisiana. (Photo: Louisiana Bucket Brigade/Twitter)

A coalition of local and national groups on Friday launched a legal challenge to a Louisiana state agency’s decision to approve air permits for a $9.4 billion petrochemical complex that Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group plans to build in the region nationally known as “Cancer Alley.”

Louisiana residents and environmental justice advocates have pressured local, state, and federal officials to reject permits for the proposed project in St. James Parish. Critics have raised concerns that the complex would adversely affect public health and the environment by emitting cancer-causing chemicals and producing an estimated 13.6 million tons of planet-heating emissions annually. Continue reading

Share Button

After Supreme Court Agrees to Hear First Abortion Case With Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, Warnings Right-Wingers Could ‘Decimate’ Access in Louisiana

“We are counting on the court to follow its precedent; otherwise, clinics will needlessly close.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-4-2019

A contested Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals resembles a Texas law the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 2016. (Photo: Jordan Uhl/Flickr/cc)

Reproductive rights groups on Friday emphasized the importance of legal precedent after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging an anti-choice Louisiana law—the court’s first abortion rights case since President Donald Trump’s appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the bench and shifted the court to the right.

Act 620, a 2014 Louisiana law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals, is similar to a Texas law the Supreme Court struck down in 2016. Such measures—which critics call “TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws—have become popular among right-wing legislatures trying to circumvent Roe v. Wade and restrict access to abortion care. Continue reading

Share Button