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Revealed: Louisiana created alleged conflict of interest in ‘Cancer Alley’ case

2 min read

Grey Moran and Sara Sneath report for The Guardian that Louisiana's attorney general hired lawyers for EPA negotiations who were also representing the chemical firm at the center of the inquiry, documents show.

In a nutshell:

Louisiana's attorney general, Jeff Landry, has come under scrutiny for hiring lawyers who were simultaneously representing Formosa, a petrochemical company central to a federal investigation into the state's ties with the industry. This revelation has sparked accusations of a major conflict of interest, particularly after the Environmental Protection Agency abruptly dropped its civil rights investigation into the matter. Internal documents show that the lawyers, John King and Tim Hardy, were hired to negotiate with the EPA during the investigation while also representing Formosa in separate litigation. It raises concerns about the integrity of the negotiations and the state's commitment to environmental justice.

Key quote:

“Louisiana taxpayers are paying a couple of attorneys to shut down civil rights,” said Monique Harden, the director of law and policy at the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. “I don’t think anyone would be willing to give up their civil rights so a company can operate. That’s what the AG is pursuing.”

The big picture:

In the region known as 'Cancer Alley,' residents face dire health impacts linked to the heavy concentration of petrochemical industries. The toxic emissions from these industrial facilities have led to elevated rates of respiratory problems, cancers and other health disorders among residents of the predominantly low-income and minority communities in the area. The noxious fumes and pollutants released into the air have created a public health crisis, sparking concerns about environmental justice and the disproportionate burden of pollution borne by these already marginalized populations.

Read the article at The Guardian.

For a deeper understanding of Formosa and its impacts on environmental justice communities, check out EHN's reporting on a ruling that shot down the petrochemical giant's bid to build an enormous plastics plant in a small, predominantly Black community overburdened by pollution. And for further perspective: Earlier this year, Allison Guy reported for EHN that major updates to air pollution regulations could reduce frontline communities’ excess cancer risk by 96%.

About the author(s):

EHN Staff

Articles written and posted by staff at Environmental Health News

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