“Certainly Intimidation”: Louisiana Sues EPA for Emails With Journalists and Cancer Alley Residents

The state’s far-right government is escalating its fight against environmental protection with a rare use of public records law.

February 2 2024 | Source: The Intercept | by Delaney Nolan, Oliver Laughland

LOUISIANA’S FAR-RIGHT GOVERNMENT has quietly obtained hundreds of pages of communications between the Environmental Protection Agency and journalists, legal advocates, and community groups focused on environmental justice. The rare use of public records law to target citizens is a new escalation in the state’s battle with the EPA over its examination of alleged civil rights violations in the heavily polluted region known as “Cancer Alley.”

Louisiana sued the EPA on December 19, alleging that the federal agency had failed to properly respond to the state’s sprawling Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, request sent by former state attorney general Jeff Landry.

Court filings note that the public records case is related to another, ongoing lawsuit brought against the EPA by Landry, a staunch advocate for the oil and gas industry who now serves as Louisiana’s governor. Shortly after Landry’s suit was filed, the EPA dropped its probe into the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s permitting practices, which advocates say disproportionately impact Black residents in Cancer Alley.