AuthorBarry E. Hill
Page 973
Chapter 8
8.1 Overview
is textbook/handbook focused on two interrelated but distinct concepts: environmental justice and
sustainable development. With respect to environmental justice, it examined the issue not only from an
environmental law perspective, but also from a civil rights law perspective, as well as a human rights law
perspective. It examined the growth of the environmental justice movement a nd how low-income and/
or minority communities have sought to have their environmental and public health concerns addressed
in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government at all levels. With respect to sustainable
development, it examined how environmental law is an essential tool for a national, state, or local govern-
ment to achieve “sustainable communities.”
e following article serves as a comment on what has happened to so many low-income and/or minor-
ity communities throughout the United States who are disproportionately exposed to environmental harms
and risks. As was stated in the Introduction to this textbook/ha ndbook, the article captures so clearly and
succinctly the essence of the struggle for environmental justice by a beleaguered cancer-ridden community
in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, who have “suered more than their share of illnesses.” Only when
the environmental and public hea lth problems in that community are addressed by industry, as well as
federal and st ate government regulators, will environmental justice for all communities be made a rea lity
in the United States. Hopefully, that will come sooner rather than later.
8.1.1 Lerner Article, “The Plant Next Door: A Louisiana Town Plagued by Pollution Shows Why Cuts
to the EPA Will Be Measured in Illnesses and Deaths”
Sharon Lerner, e Plant Next Door: A Louisiana Town Plagued by Pollution
Shows Why Cuts to the EPA Will Be Measured in Illnesses and Deaths2
T I (March 24, 2017)
When t he Environmental Protection Agency informed people in St. John the Baptist Parish, L oui-
siana, la st July that the local neoprene plant was emitting a chemical that gave them the h ighest risk of
cancer from a ir pollution in the countr y, the information was received not just with horror and sadness,
but also with a certa in sense of validation.
For years, many of the people living on this little square of land bet ween the train tracks and the Mis-
sissippi River levee have felt t hey suered more than their share of illnesses. Troyla Keller has a r ash and
asthma that abate every time she leaves the neighborhood and worsen when she returns. Augustine Nich-
olson Dorris had breast cancer and seizures. A nd David Sanders has trouble breat hing, a tumor on his
thyroid, and neurologica l problems. “It took a lot away from me,” said Sa nders, whose speech is slurred,
when I visited the a rea a ha lf-hour west of New Orleans in Februa ry. Several people spoke of shuttling
their children and grandchildren to t he nearby ER for asthma treatments. And many residents also fre-
quent the neighborhood’s two busy dialysis c enters. A third is under construction.
“Everybody felt there was too much sickness,” said Robert Taylor, 76, whose wife had breast cancer and
is now strug gling with multiple sclerosis. Taylor’s daughter Raven suers from gast roparesis, a relatively
rare autoimmune di sorder that has lef t the 48-year-old unable to digest food and bedridden, after an
2. Sharon Lerner, e Plant Next Door: A Louisiana Town Plagued by Pollution Shows Why Cuts to the EPA Will Be Measured in Illnesses and Deaths,
T I (Mar. 30, 2017), at https://theintercept.com/2017/03/24/a-louisiana-town-plagued-by-pollution-shows-why-cuts-to-the-epa-
will-be-measured-in-illnesses-and-deaths/. Reprinted in full with the author’s permission.

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