Image by marcinjozwiak from Pixabay

The article by Sen Cassidy on the Presidents designation and use of the term Cancer Alley continues to draw comments disagreeing with the comments the senator made. Initially an Advocate editorial commented and now another submission was published noting that in objecting to the President’s ideas, Sen Cassidy is favoring the polluters.

“He call himself a doctor?” a fuming Sharon Lavigne said of U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy Thursday morning. “What kind of doctor is he?! A doctor to just let people die?” For the record, the senior senator from Louisiana is a gastroenterologist, a physician who diagnoses and treats disorders of the digestive system, but Lavigne, a leader of the environmental justice group Rise St. James, wasn’t asking about Cassidy’s specialty. She was accusing him of a lack of concern unbecoming his profession.

The senator based his position on the medical conditions of many in Louisiana: cigarette smoking, obesity, diabetes, and other conditions and diseases.

Lavigne, a 68-year-old retired teacher who’s been fighting to keep Formosa Plastics from building a $9.4 billion manufacturing complex about a mile from her house, doesn’t consider the cancers in her community on the west bank of St. James Parish unexplained. “We are not lying. This is fact. People are dying because of the pollution.”  Lavigne’s neighbors to her left and right both died of cancer, and the list of people she personally knows who’ve died of that disease is “no less than 50,” she said. “Me and my brother was sitting down, and we were trying to name all the people we thought about. We couldn’t stop naming. I said, ‘Golly, I forgot that one had cancer.’”

In fact, an attempt to upgrade the Clean Air Act used Louisiana as the focus of the effort. The pollution from the chemical plants is bad and no governmental entity seems to care.

Her hope is no small thing. Lavigne said that there hadn’t been a single elected official — Democrat or Republican — who’d supported her community’s fight against Formosa.  She suspects that politicians from the parish council level to Congress know there’s more money to be had supporting the plants than opposing them. “Money can’t save my life,” she said.

The effort by the civic groups and churches seem to be the only bulwark against more sickness and cancer caused by these noxious plants.

Cancer Alley – Take 3
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