Liars, Liars Planet’s on Fire

Finding Solutions In The Aftermath Of Hurricane Ida

More than a week ago, Hurricane Ida made landfall as one of the strongest storms to hit the United States, and of course, in areas that are already polluted, there’s trouble.

Widespread damage in the Gulf Coast has left half a million people without power, many homes and communities destroyed, and the U.S. Coast Guard is investigating oil spills in the aftermath of the storm.

Activist Sharon Lavigne director and founder of RISE St. James, described in an article in Rolling Stone that she’s watched crude oil spill out of a holding tank, seen flares shoot fire out of a petrochemical plant, and smelled a foul chemical stench from a fertilizer manufacturer in the last week.

St. James Parish is located in the heart of Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley,” an 85-mile stretch of communities along the Mississippi River where about 150 fossil fuel and petrochemical facilities operate.

“Industry has power, always has backup whenever we have a storm,” Lavigne said in an interview. “The residents, some of them have generators, and a lot of us don’t have generators. My water was off because in the hurricane it hit a pipeline, or whatever — the trees and stuff fell on my pipeline. I didn’t have water. Parish came to fix the pipe. They said it wasn’t on their side. I have to pay someone to fix it myself.”

Energy companies continue to show how unprepared they are in the face of climate change. Entergy Louisiana serves more than one million electric customers in 58 parishes throughout the state, but the company has come under fire for not adapting its energy model for sever weather and aggressively fighting solutions, such as solar power.

“Any utility that’s continuing to double down and invest in fossil [fuel] infrastructure is, we think, a real problem, a real shame,” said Logan Atkinson Burke, executive director of the New Orleans-based Alliance for Affordable Energy in a National Geographic article.

We’ve seen similar problems in Texas and California and throughout the U.S., where energy companies are not investing in infrastructure updates to keep up with the climate crisis.

It’s time to stop believing the lies such as, “renewables are too expensive.” These companies make billions in profit. For decades, the fossil fuel industry has shelled out millions of dollars to intentionally mislead us on the science. One such example: A new natural gas plant that was supposed to power New Orleans during a crisis failed.

The planet is in peril and we need real solutions!

Thankfully, people are working on them. Since 1985, the Alliance for Affordable Energy has been working to ensure equitable, affordable, and environmentally responsible energy policy for ALL Louisiana energy consumers. They are Louisiana's only dedicated watchdog working to protect consumer rights at the Louisiana Public Service Commission, and New Orleans City Council. They do not receive any funding from the city or state, and rely on their members, corporate sponsors, and foundations to keep the work going.

We need more places like this one in New Orleans: The first net-zero affordable apartment complex in the state has 450 solar panels, a solar microgrid, that send electricity to a battery storage system in the parking lot. Now that’s cool! The lights are on in the building, where so many are without power. Read more about it all here.

The apartment building opened in 2020 and was built in part by a nonprofit called SBP, which since 2006, has directly rebuilt homes for more than 2,140 families with the help of more than 130,000 volunteers in New Orleans, LA; Joplin, MO; Staten Island, NY; Rockaway, NY; Monmouth/Ocean Counties, NJ; San Marcos, TX; Columbia, SC; Baton Rouge, LA; Houston, TX; Brazoria County, TX; Puerto Rico; the Florida Panhandle; and the Bahamas.

We already have solutions to some of the biggest issues we face, we just need more people to get involved and for more people to spread the message. We need to hold those in power accountable. The lies from polluting industries need to be challenged now, so we can get to work fixing these issues.

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We’ll be donating a portion of subscriptions this month to RISE St. James, which works to stop the fossil fuel industry’s pollution and expansion and implement a just transition to renewable energy.

Has your energy company lied to you about preparedness? Let us know in the comments below.