House Bill 72 will allow Louisiana industrial plants to self-inspect themselves.
The companies would have a chance to correct any polluting violations in exchange for possibly lowering some of their fines.
The legislation is now on the governor’s desk.
If Governor Edward's signs it, Louisiana would become the 22nd state with self-Audit programs.
We spoke to the sponsor of the bill, Lafayette Representative Jean-Paul Coussan.
"The bill is a department bill in order to incentivize companies to have a higher standard of self inspections.
The title of the bill is self audit, but practically speaking, we're talking about doing and receiving thousands of more inspections at the Department of Environmental Quality each year that the department would otherwise not get.
I think it's a valuable program to the state, and I think it's going to be a good partnership between the LOUISIANA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (LDEQ) and the industry and the participants that actually will be a part of the program."
However, critics argue that this bill still allows industrial polluters to hide their polluting events from the general public for up to two years.
"Obviously that's bad policy. Communities have a right to know what’s going on in the industries that border or that could impact their uh, their lives so that they can respond accordingly," says Bill Goodell, an environmental lawyer.
"The key to true Environmental Enforcement is adequately funding our LDEQ. If the legislature wants to help improve our status, one of the worst polluting states in the country, what the legislature needs to do is adequately fund the LDEQ," Goodell further explains.
Coussan says he expects the governor to sign the bill.
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