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EPA targets 'cancer alley' discrimination

SHOT LIST: ASSOCIATED PRESSReserve, Louisiana – 22 September 20221. Various showing outside of Denka chemical plantASSOCIATED PRESSReserve, Louisiana – 15 September 2022++PARTIALLY COVERED BY SHOTS 1,3,4++2. SOUNDBITE (English) Mary Hampton, Concerned Citizens of St. John:"You could be sitting and all of a sudden everybody's coughing. You got this dry cough. Something is choking you. Just being there you just start choking. It's something in the air."3. Medium of Highway 61 (where some refinery sites have their entrances)4. Tight shot of railroad sign with refinery site in background5. Person walking in communityANNOTATION: The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating possible discrimination by Louisiana agencies against Black residents.ASSOCIATED PRESSReserve, Louisiana – 23 September 20226. Various aerials of Denka chemical plant and nearby school and communityANNOTATION: Activists say state officials failed to curb air pollution in predominantly Black areas where there is lots of industry, known as "cancer alley."ANNOTATION: Denka chemical plant, which is being scrutinized, is right next to a school.ASSOCIATED PRESSSouth Royalton, Vermont – 22 September 20227. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Harris, Environmental justice lawyer:"The concentration of facilities in what's called "Cancer Alley," it's just really not on par with what we see anywhere else in this country."ASSOCIATED PRESSARCHIVE: Reserve, Louisiana – 17 November 20218. EPA administrator Michael Regan and resident Robert Taylor walking as they talkANNOTATION: Last year, the head of the EPA traveled to the area to highlight its severe air pollution and elevated risk of cancer.ASSOCIATED PRESSReserve, Louisiana – 15 September 2022++PARTIALLY COVERED BY SHOT 10++9. SOUNDBITE (English) Lydia Gerard, Concerned Citizens of St. John:"Once you find out about these high emissions everybody's concerned, everybody's scared. What is it doing to our bodies? We might not have any symptoms or things that are showing up. No cancer right now and nothing's showing up but what is it doing inside of us? We don't know."10. Various showing outside of Denka facilityANNOTATION: A Denka spokesperson said advocates were describing a crisis that "simply does not exist." The state said it has worked to help the company emit less.ASSOCIATED PRESSSouth Royalton, Vermont – 22 September 2022++PARTIALLY COVERED BY SHOT 10++11. SOUNDBITE (English) Mike Harris, Environmental justice lawyer:"You have such a history of environmental racism in the placement of facilities within the state of Louisiana into communities of color and communities of lower income, that it's almost impossible for one not to conclude that there's something wrong there."ASSOCIATED PRESSReserve, Louisiana – 22 September 202212. Exterior of Denka facilityANNOTATION: Louisiana regulators said they did not discriminate — companies want to locate in the region because key infrastructure already exists here.ASSOCIATED PRESSReserve, Louisiana – 15 September 2022++PARTIALLY COVERED++13. SOUNDBITE (English) Mary Hampton, Concerned Citizens of St. John:"I'm still waiting for the action because I don't see the action. They keep telling you time, time. It's going to take until 2024 but we've been fighting since 2015."ASSOCIATED PRESSReserve, Louisiana – 22 September 202214. Denka chemical plant with tree branch in foregroundVideo by: Stephen SmithProduced by: Brittany Peterson STORYLINE:Federal officials are investigating whether Louisiana regulators are discriminating against Black residents by failing to control air pollution in parishes packed with refineries and petrochemical plants, a region some call "cancer alley."The Denka chemical plant, in the majority-Black town of Reserve, Louisiana, is under scrutiny from the Environmental Protection Agency. Less than a half mile from an elementary school in Reserve, it makes synthetic rubber, emitting chloroprene, listed as a carcinogen in California, and a likely one by the EPA. Mary Hampton, who lives in Reserve, is the president of Concerned Citizens of St. John the Baptist Parish, which raised civil rights concerns about the state's handling of Denka.She worries about the health of her family and friends and is frustrated that the environmental consequences fall on this community.A Denka spokesperson said advocates were describing a crisis that "simply does not exist." The state said it has worked to help the company emit less, denying it was taking too long to do more. The plant's investigation is part of a push by the Biden administration to prioritize environmental enforcement in communities overburdened by pollution. On Saturday, that push ratcheted up a notch when EPA administrator Michael Regan announced the creation of a new office at EPA focused on environmental justice. Regan visited Reserve last year to highlight its sever air pollution. Louisiana environmental regulators said they did not discriminate — companies want to locate in the region because key infrastructure already exists here. ___The Associated Press receives support from the Walton Family Foundation for coverage of water and environmental policy. The AP is solely responsible for all content. 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