By Anne Rolfes
The real story of the proposed petrochemical projects along the Mississippi River is the utter failure of our state’s leaders to be creative in bringing healthy and pollution-free economic development to our state. In an age of high tech, green business, renewable energy and social entrepreneurism, are dangerous jobs at ammonia and steel plants really the best we can do? Our so-called leaders are pursuing the polluted vision of the last century.
The Advocate’s one-sided story did nothing to hold our governor or Department of Economic Development accountable for their failure of vision and leadership. From the positive headline and the description that the region is “enjoying” this development to the failure to examine the projects’ impacts on our already polluted state, the story seemed straight from the public relations manuals of the companies involved.
Such journalism ignored: the health, environmental and economic impacts of the pollution; the cost of these impacts on taxpayers; the fact that many of these products are for export; the ongoing accident history of the oil and chemical plants already in operation; the danger inherent in the jobs and fact that many of the jobs will not be full time but will be filled by contract labor and a workforce brought from overseas; the opportunity cost of pursuing dirty petrochemicals; all of the time and subsidies we give to dirty development; the time and money lost on recruiting clean businesses; the contrast of Louisiana’s economic development vision with other states, many of which refuse to have such industry; the failure of regulatory agencies to adequately monitor existing facilities.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general has described the situation in Louisiana as “a culture in which the state agency is expected to protect industry.”
Until The Advocate dedicates staff to writing about both sides of the issue, the newspaper is complicit in expanding Louisiana’s role as the nation’s dumping ground.
founding director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade