Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Press Release for Today's Trip to Sen. Landrieu

Here's the press release we sent out to reporters today about our "sit-in" at Sen. Landrieu's office:

NEWS RELEASE___________________________________________________


CONTACTS: Monique Harden, 504-919-4590 (cell)
Nathalie Walker, 504-453-6791 (cell)

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

LA Hurricane Survivors demand U.S. Sen. Landrieu Withdraw from bill that Exempts Recovery Projects from Environmental Laws

Residents Plan to Stay in Senator’s Office Until She Withdraws from Anti-Environmental Bill

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2005 (Washington, D.C.) . . . Seven Louisiana survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita traveled to the nation’s capital today to demand that U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) withdraw her name from legislation that will deny environmental and public health protections for residents working to rebuild their homes and communities. “We are outraged that Senator Landrieu is not taking action to demand better environmental protection for us. Instead, she wants to waive protective laws that will result in further pollution of our air and water, expose us to pesticides, and cut out public participation in flood control projects. Landrieu should apologize to Louisiana citizens and take her name off this appalling bill,” said Monique Harden, a resident of New Orleans who co-directs a public interest environmental law firm in the city. “I don’t know a single person suffering from the devastating affects of these hurricanes who wants the rebuilding effort to be exempt from environmental protection laws even for a single day. Why is Senator Landrieu listening to companies with construction and consulting contracts whose only concern is getting paid quickly for building somethingt fast? She owes, us, her suffering constituents, so much more,” added Nathalie Walker, a New Orleans resident and law partner of Ms. Harden.

Senator Landrieu is a sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1765, which gives the President sweeping and unprecedented authority to waive all environmental laws for any project related to hurricane recovery. This bill also waives federal pesticide laws and the Clean Water Act for any mosquito abatement programs, and waives the National Environmental Policy Act, among other laws, for flood control and coastal restoration projects. “Hurricane Mary is doing to environmental and health protection what Hurricanes Katrina and Rita did to the Gulf Coast. If Mary Landrieu’s bill passes, she will have opened the floodgates to hundreds of businesses and government agencies being exempted from protecting our air, water, and land,” said Erica Jackson, a resident of Mossville, located next to Lake Charles, where several oil refineries and petrochemical facilities responsible for severe pollution and contamination were in the pathway of Hurricane Rita.

“In New Orleans, I am daily passing out donated respirators, goggles, and gloves to returning residents, who are gutting homes covered in toxic mold, and shoveling mounds of dirt left by toxic floodwaters. No one, including Senator Landrieu, should remove important laws that protect human health,” said Johanna Congleton, a resident of New Orleans who directs a local public health organization.

Senator Landrieu’s office has not responded to repeated requests for a meeting. “It looks like Senator Landrieu wants to avoid hearing what we are going through to rebuild our homes and communities. When we arrive at her office, we plan to stay until she withdraws her name from this bill that is anti-environmental and anti-public health,” said Sharon Alexis, a New Orleans resident whose neighborhood has a shuttered pesticide facility where significant contamination remains, and may have been released into the surrounding area during Hurricane Katrina.

Beth Zilbert, a Lake Charles resident whose home was damaged by Hurricane Rita said, “Our demand to Senator Landrieu is simple: withdraw from Senate Bill No. 1765 so that you can help us, not hurt us.”



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