White House Forum on Environmental Justice

Outside Norco, LA (© Osha Gray Davidson)

The White House Forum on Environmental Justice was held on Wednesday. Here’s a list of the day’s announced events:

10:00 a.m. Opening Plenary Session featuring Nancy Sutley, chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality, and Lisa P. Jackson, administrator, Environmental Protection Agency

10:20 a.m. Green Jobs, Clean Energy Session featuring opening remarks by Hilda Solis, secretary of labor

11:40 a.m. Legal Framework for Advancing Environmental Justice Session, featuring opening remarks by Eric Holder. United States attorney general

1:50 p.m. Healthy Communities and Place-based Initiatives Session, featuring opening remarks by Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human Services

3:15 p.m. Climate Adaptation Session, featuring opening remarks by Ken Salazar, secretary of the interior and Janet Napolitano, secretary of homeland security

4:25 p.m. Closing Session, Nancy Sutley, chairman, White House Council on Environmental Quality

From the Council on Environmental Quality:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and Nancy Sutley, the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, hosted a live chat to answer your questions about the Obama Administration’s work to create a healthy and sustainable environment for all Americans. They took questions from Facebook participants and students ranging from eighth grade to doctoral candidates who were assembled at Occidental University in Los Angeles, CA, and were on the other end of the video chat.

Here’s the video of that Q&A:

White House Wrap-Up

After the Forum, the White House issued a press release with their take (aka, spin) on the event.


White House Forum on Environmental Justice, press release

Resources

1. More pictures from Cancer Alley (and text).

2. Bhopal

3. Dumping in Dixie by Robert Bullard.

4. Article on Robert Bullard.

5. Memorandum on Environmental Justice, President William J. Clinton, Feb. 11, 1994.

6. The Quest for Environmental Justice by Robert Bullard.

Pictures From Petroleum’s “Cancer Alley”

Overdrive 1

If Saturday’s drive through the wind farms of West Texas was a glimpse of one possible future, Sunday’s journey passed the oil refineries and chemical plants northwest of New Orleans — on a road known to environmentalists and many local residents as Cancer Alley — was a grim reminder of America’s past, present and potential fossil fuel future.

Norco, LA. View from credit union parking lot

Norco, LA. View from credit union parking lot

More than 125 companies operate in this area, extracting various chemicals from petroleum. Most of the compounds are highly toxic, and concerns here range from the dangers of chronic exposure through contaminated water and air pollution to the potential for a Bhopal-type disaster.

The concern over a catastrophic event is understandable looking at the remains of houses flattened by Hurricane Katrina a couple of miles to the east on Lake Pontchartrain.

The Smell of [Fill in the Blank]

Depending on who signs your paycheck, the many acrid smells that permeate these small communities are called either “the smell of money” or “the stench of death.” There’s no question that the industrial plants dotting the land here create jobs. But, at what price? And who foots the bill? And what alternatives exist?

Earlier in the day, heading down Interstate 49, I listened to a gospel church service on the radio. One line returns later while driving slowly up and down streets in Norco, looking at the clouds of waste rising from a plant.

“If you can’t get something the right way,” shouted the pastor, “it isn’t worth having.”

Norco, LA

Norco, LA

Random Pictures from Cancer Alley

School buses by the plant

School buses by the plant

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Chemical tanks

Chemical tanks

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Pipeline

Pipeline

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Traffic

Traffic