The Latest News and Updates


Mar 29, 2022

The People Have Spoken! Ethics ban on campaign contributions advances to full Council (copy)

The People Have Spoken! Ethics ban on campaign contributions advances to full Council Today, the City Council committee that oversees the regulation of Entergy, AT&T, and Cox Communications voted unanimously to approve a new ethics law to ban campaign contributions from these and other companies regulated or contracted by the City Council. More than 50 New Orleans residents gave comments in support of the ethics ban. The City Council is expected to vote on it at the regular meeting on April 7. "The Council committee's vote for the ethics ban on campaign contributions is an important step forward for equity and justice in New Orleans. We don't want energy costs, drainage projects, and what we do in this climate crisis to have the undue influence of money from companies regulated or contracted by the City Council. Thanks to our partner organization, the Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition (GNOICC), for making this possible. We applaud Councilmember Helena Moreno for introducing this necessary amendment to the Ethics Code, as well as Councilmembers J.P. Morrell, Joe Giarrusso, and Freddie King for co-sponsoring it.” said Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. GNOICC proposed the ban on campaign contributions from companies regulated or contracted by the City Council, which was approved by the Ethics Review Board in August 2021. Councilmember Helena Moreno introduced the legislation in February that was voted on today by the Utility, Cable, Telecommunications, and Technology Committee of the City Council.  ...

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Mar 25, 2022

Take Action: Help Strengthen Our City's Code of Ethics

NEW DATE! TUESDAY, MARCH 29, 2022 at 11AM! On Tuesday, March 29, 2022 at 11:00 am, the Utility Committee of the City Council plans to hold a public meeting to hear comments and vote on a proposed ethics law that bans campaign contributions. A vote in favor by the Committee moves the proposed ethics law to the full City Council for a vote.  Make your voice heard. Attend the meeting. Call, email or tweet your Councilmembers.  Ask everyone you know in New Orleans to do the same.     WHAT DOES THE PROPOSED ETHICS LAW PROHIBIT?    “No Councilmember or candidate seeking the office of Councilmember shall accept or otherwise receive a campaign contribution or any other financial benefit of any value from:    Any entity that provides an electric or gas utility, cable, telecommunications or technology service regulated by the City Council;    Any political action committee, director or executive staff person of a corporation or entity regulated by the City Council;    Any person, firm or entity with a professional service contract awarded by the City Council; or   Any person, firm or entity with a professional service contract awarded by the New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board."      Click HERE to view the full text.      HOW CAN YOU HELP? MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!    Attend the Utility Committee meeting and make a comment in support of the proposed ethics law.  The meeting starts at 11:00 am on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 1300 Perdido Street.  he public comment form will open on Monday, March 28.  Be sure to send your comment no later than 8:00AM, Tuesday, March, 29 so that it can be read at the meeting. Select agenda item "Ordinance Cal. No. 33,367 - Prohibited Campaign Contributions." To submit your comment to the Council Utility Committee, click here.  Email your Councilmembers and tell them to vote “yes” on the proposed ethics ordinance. Please note that Councilmember Helena Moreno (At-Large) is sponsoring the proposed ethics law. Councilmembers on the Utility Committee are in bold and have an asterisk next to their names.  Helena Moreno (At-Large) -* J.P. Morrell (At-Large) -* Joe Giarrusso (District A) -* Lesli Harris (District B) -  Freddie King (District C) -*  Eugene Green (District D) -  Oliver Thomas (District E) -*   BACKGROUND: The Greater New Orleans Interfaith Climate Coalition and its partner organizations proposed an ordinance, a local law, to strengthen the City of New Orleans Code of Ethics to prohibit a campaign contribution or other financial benefit from a utility provider or other entity that is regulated or contracted by the New Orleans City Council.  The passage of this ordinance is a necessary safeguard against the potential for undue influence on energy costs, climate policies, and other important issues handled by the Council that impact the daily lives of all New Orleanians.  The Ethics Review Board unanimously voted in favor of this proposed ethics law. Councilmember Helena Moreno is sponsoring it.   Supporting Partners:   ...

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Mar 10, 2022

Webinar: The False Promise of Carbon Capture in Louisiana

MISSED THE WEBINAR? Check out the recording and presentations. Oil and gas companies are targeting Louisiana for the underground disposal of millions of tons of industrial carbon waste. In this webinar, legal experts pull back the cover of so-called "carbon capture and storage" to present the wide range of safety, health and environmental risks for Louisiana communities. They share their insights on relevant laws and policies, and discuss the actions people can take. LEARN MORE...

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Mar 7, 2022

Now Accepting Applications for the HBCU Environmental Justice And Climate Corps Internship (copy)

The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) is now accepting applications for the HBCU Environmental Justice and Climate Corps Internship. Five interns representing five Gulf Coast states will immerse themselves in a hands-on research to action project working with a partner community based organization disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards and climate change. The five Gulf Coast communities are New Orleans, LA, Houston, TX, Gulfport, MS, Mobile, AL and Pensacola, FL. DEADLINE: APRIL 23, 2022 For more details and application instructions, please click on the flyer below.  ...

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Jan 24, 2022

Dr. Wright featured in story of twin sisters fight to save their community in Wallace, LA

By Halle Parker - Photo by Sophia Germer -   Twins Jo and Joy Banner were just 10 years old when their family was nearly forced to leave their small St. John the Baptist Parish neighborhood to make room for a Taiwanese company trying to build a rayon plant. Originally settled by the descendants of those enslaved on a nearby plantation, the Banners’ cluster of residential homes in Wallace would have been razed and replaced with the corporate offices of that company, Formosa Plastics Group. "They told my parents we had three months to get out," Jo Banner recalled. "A family of six. In three months, we had to find a home."  Ultimately, the buyouts weren't finalized and the project never came to fruition; it was halted after the parish president at that time, Lester Millet, was charged with extortion and other crimes after he schemed to help Formosa build its plant. Now 43, the Banner sisters have founded a nonprofit that is leading an effort to rid the area of the infamous deal's lingering legacy and overturn decades-old zoning changes that allow heavy industries to locate next to neighborhoods. "We are the victims of a crime that happened, and here we are, still dealing with this crime," Jo Banner said. The Descendants Project, the Banners' Wallace-based nonprofit, sued the parish in November over a 1990 zoning law that rezoned hundreds acres of farmland in Wallace from residential to industrial use. The case is still working its way through the courts; a ruling in the sisters’ favor would effectively block a $400 million grain terminal from being built near the neighborhood.  The group eventually hopes to form working groups of residents who might consider models for collective land ownership, such as community land trusts or land redistribution. Also underway is an effort to map potential burial sites in order to better protect those spaces, said researcher Jordan Brewington, who works with the twins’ nonprofit, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade and other groups.  Though the Banners have become the face of local opposition to Wallace’s zoning rules, their nonprofit actually began with a much different goal. Founded in the fall of 2020, the Descendants Project grew out of the desire to enhance the lives of others descended from the enslaved. The twins also wanted to fix the region's plantation tourism industry. The sisters argue, for example, that marketing the River Parishes area as "Plantation Country" dismisses slave experiences and takes a narrow view of what makes the area special. The sole Louisiana plantation to make the experiences of those who were enslaved its chief focus is the Whitney Plantation, where the sisters’ great-great-grandmother was born into slavery, and where Joy Banner now works as director of communications, the Banners said. Both women said that tourism jobs are a great alternative to jobs with the petrochemical plants concentrated along the Mississippi River. "It's a way of protecting the land. It's a greener industry," Joy Banner said. "Our passion for tourism is right alongside the protection of descended communities and preventing environmental racism, or reducing environmental racism as best as we can." In Louisiana’s chemical corridor, an 85-mile stretch along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, industrial facilities are frequently built near Black and low-income neighborhoods, said Deep South Center for Environmental Justice founder Beverly Wright, who was involved in Wallace’s 1990s battle against Formosa. "I don't know how to explain the constant insult in the expansion of toxic, noxious, dangerous facilities in the same places over and over again," Wright said. "Once they start, you get zoned for everything that's dangerous. And then the facilities see it as a welcoming spot because they've already got one. They know they can get people to say yes to two, three and four." Brewington agreed that zoning laws like the ones in Wallace have long harmed vulnerable neighborhoods. "This is centuries of land-based injustice that really began with settler colonialism and the stealing of this land from indigenous folks,” Brewington said. “But we see the continuation of that violence through these zoning decisions, and through the lack of community control over how these lands are stewarded." Wright said the Descendants Project’s efforts would be a step beyond past attempts by environmental justice advocates to reduce emissions or to have companies pay to relocate residents in polluted communities.  "They're saying no, we deserve reparations for what has been done to us," she said. "This land belongs to our families, our families were born, our ancestors who have gone on this land, and we will not be moved."  ...

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Jan 21, 2022

Dr. Wright testifies before the House Natural Resources Committee on Climate and Offshore Drilling

By Valerie Cleland - NRDC   In a House Natural Resources Committee hearing this week, committee members focused on the connection between offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and U.S. climate goals. This much is clear: continuing ‘business as usual’ offshore oil and gas leasing simply does not put us on a path to meet our climate goals.  Every decision our leaders make now needs to consider a clean energy future, not continuing our reliance on fossil fuels. And the administration can and must move towards this future by offering a five-year program with no leasing. As a quick reminder, offshore leasing is regulated under the Department of Interior through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Every five years, BOEM is tasked with putting out an offshore leasing program that considers the effect of leasing on the environment and communities.  (Read more)  ...

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Dec 7, 2021

Expanding the Communities' Capacity to Heal Itself Training

December 7th and 14th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm CST This training is both a declarative and procedural learning experience, designed to provide vulnerable communities with the tools necessary to create culturally, responsive trauma-informed systems. The training module seeks to provide participants with the following Increased understanding of a public health pandemic (Coronavirus) and a racial pandemic as a mental health disaster Increased understanding of the impact of COVID19 on emotional well being Increased understanding of trauma-informed systems Increased understanding of ways to integrate trauma-informed practices across the systems with which community members interface  Increased understanding of activism and advocacy as a source of healing for vulnerable communities   Trauma-Informed Approaches in Youth-Serving Organizations is a web-based, trauma-informed practice workshop that is part of our larger Professional Development Series. The Series prepares youth development professionals and educators to be equity-focused, trauma-informed, healing justice practitioners. The session on trauma-informed practice covers Adverse Childhood Experiences and its impact on brain development in early childhood. We also address vicarious trauma and the importance of self- care for helping professionals. The session also covers the basic principles of trauma informed systems and the key assumptions of trauma informed practice, as well as strategies for implementing trauma-informed practices in our work.  Some of the strategies we cover in the training include social emotional learning activities along with identifying the ways in which writing, the arts, meditation and other practices can be implemented as healing modalities to support the well-being of young people and those who work with them.  Register here Presenters: Dr. Rashida Govan Executive Director, New Orleans Youth Alliance Dr. Danielle Wright Division Director, Navigate NOLA   ...

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Nov 29, 2021

Cancer has decimated our community.’ EPA’s Regan vows to help hard-hit areas, but residents have doubts

By Darryl Fears - Washington Post Beverly Wright, the executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice in east New Orleans, who also sits on the panel and toured with Regan, said she would give the administration an “I,” for incomplete.   “It could go anywhere from there, an A, a C, D or F,” Wright said. Regan made a strong impression, she said, but “we’ll have to see.”   Wright’s center was the administrator’s first stop in Louisiana. He met with about a dozen community representatives who spoke with him privately before they boarded a small tour bus for the 65-mile ride to St. John the Baptist Parish.   There, in Cancer Alley — which winds for 85 miles along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge — he stopped at Fifth Ward Elementary School, where hundreds of mostly Black students aged 10 and under attend classes and romp on a playground near the Denka Performance Elastomer plant once owned by DuPont.   The plant emits a hazardous pollutant called chloroprene, which the EPA identifies “a likely human carcinogen” that can cause rapid heartbeats, gastrointestinal disorders, dermatitis, temporary hair loss and corneal damage.   The census tract containing the school has an overall cancer rate that is 25 percent higher than the state average, according to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which filed a class-action lawsuit against the St. John the Baptist Parish School Board on behalf of its Black students.   After the EPA determined in 2016 that anything above 0.2 micrograms of chloroprene per cubic meter was dangerous, Denka agreed to reduce emissions by 85 percent despite disagreeing with the finding.   The company succeeded, according to a statement released in March. Denka said it also “developed a voluntary emission reduction program,” coordinated with the state, which was completed in 2017 “at a final cost of over $35 million.”   Concerned Citizens of St. John head Robert Taylor, who sat beside Regan during the tour there, said the exposure of schoolchildren “infuriated and frightened” him.    Read more ...

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Nov 23, 2021

Dr. Beverly Wright talks to Black News Channel About Climate Change at COP26

Dr. Beverly Wright talks to the Black News Channel (BNC) about Climate Change Impacts in Cancer Alley at COP26

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Oct 29, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccines and Variants Training

You Must Register to Attend! All COVID-19 vaccines and variants trainings are conducted by experts in public health and workplace safety.   COVID-19 Vaccines and Variants Training   Tuesday, November 9th @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm CT on Zoom To register, click here   Repeated Tuesday, November 16th @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm CT on Zoom To register, click here Funded by:   

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