JEast of Oil City, where Louisiana Representative Danny McCormick comes from, is the predominantly black city of Shreveport. Residents inhaling some of the most toxic air in the country. Oil refineries owned by UOP and Calumet contribute to the city’s toxic emissions, according to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory.
The idea for the bill, McCormick said, arose after President Joe Biden began imposing new restrictions on oil and gas companies, including a break in new oil and gas leases in federal states and waters. “Look at what they did to the coal industry,” he said at a hearing in the Louisiana House Committee. “We already know what the player plan is. They were already picking out coal. Now they go for oil and gas. ”
The bill – which is unlikely to move forward in its current state due to legality issues – is among several bills introduced at the Louisiana legislature this session that would likely reduce the regulation of oil and gas companies in the state. Lawmakers say deregulation is necessary to preserve tax revenues from oil and gas companies and to stop further job losses. A separate bill introduced by McCormick would redefine gas pipelines from modes of transportation to facilities to prevent Louisiana State Police from fining pipeline companies for not reporting gas leaks immediately.
Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards has also pushed back on the Biden administration’s energy agenda and has written a letter to the president that included petrochemical lobbyists’ speeches, according to the HuffPost. Documents showed an oil and gas trading group coordinated between top officials in Louisiana and their colleagues in New Mexico – another oil state with a Democratic governor. Although states are led by Democrats, they remain obstacles to Biden’s climate plans. Texas, which has a Republican governor and legislator, is also pushing bills to protect the oil and gas industry from climate action.
Nixing environmental requirements would disproportionately affect color communities. Shreveport, which is 57% black, is in the 90th to 95th percentile for cancer risk by inhaling air toxic substances, according to the EPA’s National Air Toxics Assessment. In 2013, the EPA offered the Calumet refinery $ 326,000 for nine air violations, bringing a new fenceline monitoring system.
Shreveport is located in northwestern Louisiana, almost on the border with Texas. But southeastern Louisiana, between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, is also known for its heavy industrial presence and pollution. It has been called “Cancer Alley”. Louisiana U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy has brushed on Biden using the term and opposed campaigns by Democrats to revoke permits from a major plastics factory proposed for the corridor.
McCormick runs M&M Oil. Prior to becoming a lawmaker, he was a member of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, an industrial lobby group. Last week, when McCormick was asked by other lawmakers about the constitutionality of the law, he said he was not aware that anyone was against the law. “I do not know who would have a problem with that, honestly,” he said.
But Velma White, 71, who lives in McCormick’s district, said she is concerned about the proposed legislation. “It’s going to hurt the people,” she said of McCormick’s bill. “I do not think it is right for the people.”
White lives a block away from Calumet Shreveport Refining and believes her family’s health problems were caused by air emissions from the facility. White’s daughter was diagnosed with kidney failure at a young age. White’s husband and sisters have also had health problems. “They have literally put me and my family through hell,” she said of the refinery. “I know there should be someone who cares about people’s lives.”
White and other residents filed a lawsuit against the former owners of the Calumet refinery, Pennzoil-Quaker state, in 2001. White said she hoped the lawsuit would open a dialogue with the company about acquisitions to help residents move away. from the pollution. “These people can’t get out of that community,” White said. “They will continue to be exposed to what is happening at that refinery. You can not just pull up and run. ”
In January, White received an offer to settle its $ 2,500 claim against the oil companies. She experienced nausea, difficulty breathing and miscarriage in 1987, according to E&E News.
“That was what they offered me,” she said. “I’m just amazed.”
White believes federal regulators should take steps that will force companies to lower emissions. But if McCormick’s law became law, the state would not be able to enforce those rules.
McCormick’s bill was put forward because of concerns that the current language could cause the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to revoke the state’s authority to enforce federal rules. But his colleagues still offered their support. The chairman of the Louisiana House Natural Resources and Environment Committee, Jean-Paul P Coussan (R-Lafayette), said he would work with McCormick to resolve issues with the bill that could give the federal government more power over oil and gas companies. in Louisiana.
“You will not find greater support for oil and gas in his legislature than perhaps you and I,” Coussan told McCormick during the committee hearing. “We can tighten this up so that all our oil and gas components can be proud of the bill. The intent is to help the industry not end up in court just for a headline. ”