The petrochemical companies along the Mississippi River provide all types of benefits to the rest of the world, but for us, we are a sacrificial zone.
Air pollution became a personal issue for me following Hurricane Katrina, when I developed respiratory problems. Since that time, everyone in my family has been diagnosed with asthma. People in the community, my congregation and the University of New Orleans (where I work) have the constant "Katrina cough." At times, the air has too many pollutants in it to go outside or be able to work. Some of the sources of this air pollution are the numerous refineries and petrochemical facilities nearby, spraying and burning of cane fields, and the lingering impacts of the BP oil spill.
Decision makers in Washington, D.C. need to understand that corporations are not humans—they should not have human rights. They are, however, violating our human rights to have clean air, water and soil. The public should not carry the burden of externalities—costs of what corporations are doing to the environment. Corporations should bear that responsibility and pay. We are suffering, and these companies are making record profits while the public picks up the tab. It is not a matter of jobs. It is a matter of life and death.