State Legislators Tour Louisiana’s Industrial Corridor By Bus
June 16, 2023
Legislators learn about the importance of watershed management as they seek solutions for water quality and public health
On Friday, June 16, state legislators from Mississippi participated in a bus tour of Louisiana’s Industrial Corridor to learn firsthand about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), water contamination, and water infrastructure solutions. Staff from the Mississippi River Legislative Caucus (MRLC) and The Water Collaborative of Greater New Orleans discussed PFAS and water quality, watershed management, and commercial water usage laws. Legislators learned how to leverage federal money coming through the State Revolving Loan Funds to help disproportionately impacted communities.
The Industrial Corridor, often referred to as “Cancer Alley” for its disproportionately high levels of cancer, is an 85-mile stretch along the Mississippi River that has over 220 petrochemical plants. It is a prime example of the need to prioritize impacted communities and address water contaminants that jeopardize public health.
“I was excited for the opportunity to come and learn and got the chance to come to Lutcher, Louisiana,” said Mississippi State Senator Joseph Thomas. “In Mississippi, I live on the Yazoo River close to the Mississippi River. I thought this would be a great way to educate myself and learn something so we can come up with legislation and ways to help Mississippi with PFAS and other issues.”
“I would like to thank NCEL for inviting me down to take part in such an enlightening event,” said Mississippi State Senator Kelvin Butler. “It was great learning more about the need to pay more attention to the pollutants that go into the river. It was great learning more about what it takes to make drinking water and surface water healthy for years to come for young people so thanks again for inviting me. I look forward to enlightening myself in the year to come as we learn more about how we can protect our waterways.”
“This was a great opportunity for legislators to experience the importance of watershed management and the inequities in environmental degradation firsthand,” said Dylan McDowell, Executive Director of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. “It’s our hope that touring this area can serve as a driving force for their work and give them firsthand knowledge for effective policymaking. We look forward to seeing new collaborations that are spurred from this event.”
“Working with our state legislators to address ongoing water issues that affect communities across Louisiana is a vital process to ensuring fair and equitable practices that protect our environment and our residents,” said Rebecca Malpass, Director of Policy & Research at the Water Collaborative. “Our role is to bridge the gap between policies on paper and practices on the ground so that no one is left behind and community needs are addressed. Engagement and education with all stakeholders are fundamental to the core mission of The Water Collaborative.”
The tour was organized by MRLC staff in partnership with The Water Collaborative of Greater New Orleans. The MRLC was established to better coordinate state legislators in the states bordering the Mississippi River around river health and sustainable infrastructure development.
The Mississippi River Legislative Caucus is a project of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL). Created by and for state legislators, NCEL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that organizes over 1,200 environmentally-committed state legislators from all 50 states and both parties. NCEL provides venues and opportunities for lawmakers to share ideas and collaborate on environmental issues.