Moms Clean Air Force’s Almeta Cooper, Elizabeth Brandt, Sam Schmitz, and Cynthia Palmer joined with environmental justice activists from Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” last week in in front of the White House in Washington, DC. The somber, second-line-style funeral procession signified mourning the many lives lost in Louisiana’s St. James Parish and “Cancer Alley.”
St. James Parish is an area along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. It is known as Cancer Alley because there are approximately 150 oil refineries and plastics and chemical plants.
According to EPA, “the cancer risk in predominantly Black areas of St. James Parish is as high as 105 per million, compared with 60 to 75 cases per million in majority white areas. The EPA’s Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators show that St. James Parish has an 800% cancer hazard increase due to petrochemical facilities in the parish between 2007 and 2018.”
RISE St. James organized the march. RISE is a faith-based organization fighting for environmental justice “to defeat the proliferation of petrochemical industries in St. James Parish.”
RISE’s president, Sharon Lavigne, told the crowd that gathered at the White House, “I want the world to know what’s going on in St. James Parish and throughout the Gulf Coast… People are dying… Cancer is taking over our lives in the river parishes, in St. James Parish, and throughout the Gold Coast. So, we’re asking President Biden to declare St. James Parish “Cancer Alley”—to declare this an emergency. If he will not declare this an emergency, we are going to die.”