The Louisiana Citizens’ Guide To Environmental Engagement

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Our Sportsman’s Paradise is home to many industrial activities and land uses that may affect environmental conditions in our communities. Abundant natural resources and generous government incentives have attracted petrochemical and other manufacturing industries to our state, creating thousands of jobs, revenue for local governments, economic development and environmental pollution. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), Louisiana ranked 6th out of 56 states and territories in pounds of TRI chemicals released per square mile. The coming years are expected to bring even more concentrated industrial activity as part of the dramatic growth in natural gas exploration and development.

As citizens, we have a responsibility to be informed about the environment around us. Being informed is the first step to more effective participation in the decisions that affect our health, safety and local environment. However, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. We have put together this guide to help residents and community leaders across the state gain a clearer understanding of environmental issues, how they are regulated, and the steps that residents can take to make themselves and their communities safer and healthier. Being informed means being empowered to take more control of what goes on around you. This leads to stronger families and stronger communities.

The first part of the guide provides an overview of the major laws that protect the public from environmental pollution and regulate the actions of industries. Here you will find a step-by- step guide for citizens who want to participate in public meetings and give comments to the state agencies that regulate the industries. The regulatory system set up by law in this country works better when there is strong input from citizens. Another important part of public participation is citizen reporting. Section 1 contains tools to help you record and communicate observations you may have about particular problems you find in your community. The second part is divided into sections covering issues related to water, air, land, and hazardous waste. Chapter six presents information that will help you prepare for emergencies and natural disasters. Finally, environmental contacts are included in the appendix.

We hope that you will find the information easy to understand, useful and, relevant to the environmental challenges that you and your neighbors may face. Please, do not hesitate to contact us if you should have any questions on any of the subject matter.

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