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Coastal Communities in Louisiana, USA

Global climate change is greatly impacting coastal communities in Louisiana. National Commission on Environmental Justice on the Gulf Coast was formed to address the impact of on minority and low-income communities


Global climate change is greatly impacting coastal communities in Louisiana. Hurricanes Rita and Katrina wrecked havoc on these communities in 2005 and many continued to feel the effects for years afterwards.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Coastal Communities in Louisiana, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:Louisiana
Location of conflict:Terrebonne County
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Domestic municipal waste
Chemical products
Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

98 square miles of land changed to water in SW Louisiana after hurricanes Rita and Katrina; 119 square miles converted in SE Louisiana.

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Level of Investment for the conflictive project10,400,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:500,000-1,200,000
Start of the conflict:23/08/2005
Relevant government actors:City of New Orleans, State of Louisiana, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ), Bay Area Women’s Coalition, Turkey Creek Community Initiatives, North Gulfport Community Land Trust, Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative (EJCC), Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing (BISCO), Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsWetland loss
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases, Deaths
Other Health impactsHealth impacts as a result of mold spores in the air: nose and throat symptoms, coughing, wheezing, asthmas symptoms
Negative health effects and high levels of formaldehyde detected in trailers used for temporary housing- respiratory problems, nose bleeds, burning eyes, sore throats, chest congestion and repeated illness
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Other socio-economic impacts
Other socio-economic impactsLack of transportation planning, especially for emergencies like hurricanes
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Two potential solutions to the coastal communities' problem are that (1) disadvantaged New Orleans neighborhoods be provided an equal degree of structural flood control measures as the uptown and lakefront communities and (2) require a shared obligation among all strata of society to relocate into more protected areas at full and fair compensation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Thousands of people's homes remained flooded for weeks and even after the waters were removed, these people had no home to return to and were forced to find housing outside the city where they continued to be without access to adequate infrastructure or resources. The city failed to provide the necessary resources to these populations, even when offered assistance by Amtrak. Funding was slow and limited and environmental restoration was severely lacking following the storms. Recovery is still underway more than 10 years later.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Protecting Vulnerable Coastal Communities - A report by: The National Commission on Environmental Justice on the Gulf Coast and The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (2008)
[click to view]

[2] Environmental Justice through the Eye of Hurricane Katrina by Reilly Morse at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. (2008)
[click to view]

[3] Toxic Soup Redux: Why Environmental Racism and Environmental Justice Matter after Katrina - Social Science Research Council (Jun 11, 2006)
[click to view]

[4] Groups to Urge a Southern Initiative on Climate Change at People’s Climate March and Summit - Louisiana Justice Institute Blog (September 19, 2014)
[click to view]

[5] Hurricane Spawns Flurry of Deregulation - NBC News (September 12, 2005)
[click to view]

[6] BISCO website - Our Environment: The Challenge, The Solution, Why BISCO?
[click to view]

[7] EPA Climate Justice: Restoring the Louisiana Coast to Combat Future Effects of Climate Change - Carey Perry and Hilary Collis, EPA (7/15/14)
[click to view]

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Were Like Night and Day
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Understanding the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
[click to view]

How Katrina and Rita Affected the Delta
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Bernadette Grafton and Paul Mohai, [email protected] and [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1409
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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