Louisiana News Briefs

By David Jacobs | The Center Square

U.S. Sen. Cassidy: Calcasieu Parish getting almost $51 million for Hurricane Laura cleanup

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has awarded the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury almost $50.8 million for Hurricane Laura debris removal, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy announced Thursday.

Calcasieu Parish, along with Cameron Parish, took a direct hit from Laura, which was the strongest storm to make landfall in Louisiana in modern history.

“Lake Charles and southwestern Louisiana continue to rebuild after the devastating hurricanes last year,” Cassidy said. “This award is a major step toward casting away the destruction and ushering in the future.”

Paper company to invest up to $52.2 million in Bogalusa

International Paper plans to invest up to $52.2 million to modernize its Bogalusa Mill, state and company officials announced Thursday.

State officials say the mill “has been a manufacturing mainstay of Washington Parish for more than a century.” The project is meant to help the company continue to employ 492 people with average salaries of more than $86,000 plus benefits.

The latest project plan would bring International Paper’s facility upgrade investments at the Bogalusa Mill to $487 million since the company purchased the Washington Parish site in a 2012 acquisition of Temple-Inland, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ office says.

Education department releases focus group report on education during the pandemic

The Louisiana Department of Education has released a report based in part on focus groups held with 216 stakeholders, including students, parents, teachers, school leaders and school system leaders.

School systems have been flexible and transparent in their efforts to adjust to the challenges the pandemic created and were quick to provide technology to students and families, participants said. Concerns include uneven access to broadband for distance learning and the stress and learning disruptions caused by shifting between modes of learning.

“In general, student engagement is a concern,” the report says. “Not all students learn successfully in virtual environments, particularly students with disabilities, EL students [who are not yet fluent in English] and early childhood learners.”

U.S. Department of Justice: Dow to spend $294 million to reduce pollution in Louisiana and Texas

The U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality have announced a settlement with Dow Chemical Company and two subsidiaries, Performance Materials NA Inc. and Union Carbide Corporation, that the justice department says will eliminate thousands of tons of air pollution from four of Dow’s petrochemical manufacturing facilities in Louisiana and Texas.

The companies will spend approximately $294 million to install and operate air pollution control and monitoring technology to reduce flaring and the resulting harmful air pollution from 26 industrial flares at the companies’ facilities in Hahnville, Plaquemine, Freeport, Texas and Orange, Texas.

Once fully implemented, the pollution controls required by the settlement are estimated to reduce harmful air emissions of volatile organic compounds by more than 5,600 tons per year and reduce toxic air pollutants, including benzene, by nearly 500 tons per year, according to the DOJ.

“The Clean Air Act provides a blueprint for industry to operate in a safe and controlled fashion,” LDEQ Secretary Chuck Carr Brown said. “LDEQ will continue to work with our federal partners, EPA and the Justice Department, to finalize agreements that settle both long- and short-term compliance issues.”