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“Air Quality Regulators in “Cancer Alley” Have Fallen Dangerously Behind”

“An audit found that the time it takes the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality to issue penalties to polluters has doubled. Some companies that have been known to violate air quality rules were able to keep at it for years, or even decades.”

“The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality needs to do a better job of identifying industrial polluters that don't properly report emission violations, and it should enforce those violations more aggressively, according to a new management audit by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office.

Many of the audit's findings tracked those of a 2019 investigation by The Times-Picayune, The Advocate and ProPublica.

The newsrooms showed how emissions of cancer-causing chemicals from clusters of large industrial facilities in seven parishes along the lower Mississippi River combine to increase overall air toxicity for nearby residents. Overall, the analysis found that a crush of new industrial plants will increase the levels of cancer-causing chemicals in the air of predominantly Black and poor communities.”

Mark Schleifstein reports for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and The Advocate January 29, 2021.