By RJ Bowman, LABB Environmental Justice Corps Fellow
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade in collaboration with Residents for Air Neutralization (RAN) has recently been awarded a $200, 000 grant from the North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action foundation. The purpose of the grant is to help Residents for Air Neutralization protect the health of their community and ecosystem from petrochemical emissions using innovative methods in pollution monitoring and accident prevention. RAN will train five local youth leaders on how to research, collect, and document hazards from chemicals released from petrochemical plants. The five youth leaders will train 75 local youth and residents on health impacts of chemical exposure and utilization of user-friendly pollution documentation tools. The LABB will then be able to improve their databases and the iWitness pollution map. As a result of this, RAN and the LABB will create a new generation of youth leaders in the southern region of the United States, and public awareness will be greatly increased.
Over the course of two years, four strategic objectives will be carried out:
- Strategic Objective One: Increased capacity of 5 Environmental Justice Corps (EJ Corps) youth fellows to collect environmental results and document health impacts of chemical exposure.
- Strategic Goal Two: Increased awareness and public participation among local youth and residents in enhancing compliance with and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
- Strategic Goal Three: Improved comparability of emissions data, methodologies and inventories for refineries in Louisiana, including Calumet Shreveport.
- Strategic Objective Four: LABB and Ran build strategic linkages at the community, local, state and North American regional levels to reduce petrochemical pollution and its public health impacts.
With these four strategic goals in mind there will be a body of evidence created by the Environmental Justice Corps fellows on the health impacts of chemical exposure, increased public access o factual meaningful information on SO2, NOx, and VOCs in the air emissions. Both the LABB and RAN will build a creditable and reliable list of contacts and experts. The big goal is to create a sustainable relationship with other community organizations throughout the state, as well as the nation, on how to document, record, and evaluate chemical accidents, their hazards, exposure limits, to improve better enforcement and laws in the fight for clean air.