With due respect to the eloquence of Cory Booker, the senator from New Jersey is a little over the top when he explains to Louisiana folks about the dangers of industrial pollution.
Trust us, senator. We know.
And we also wonder how much it helps to present our industrial complexes as cancer-spewing conspiracies against the people, without redeeming social value, when the truth is more complex.
Booker says it is a "hateful hypocrisy" to high levels of pollution on poor communities like St. James and St. John the Baptist parishes, where he visited as part of a tour of several industrial areas of the country.
So, is it "corporate villainy where folks are outsourcing the costs and the burdens of their economic enterprise onto others and privatizing all their profits," as Booker said at Mount Triumph Baptist Church? "It is absolutely unacceptable to steal folks' livelihoods, to steal folks' health and, literally, drive down the cost of their land."
We wonder that a U.S. senator would visit a community for a photo-op with the aggrieved environmental activists without apparently seeking out at all the other side of the story: jobs and growth that the petrochemical corridor provides for the state and for the nation, including local taxes for schools and other purposes in St. James and other parishes.
Even with many thousands of high-paying petrochemical jobs, though, Louisiana is painfully aware of the downsides of oil and gas development, which has helped to erode our protective coastal marshes, and of large industrial contributors to air pollution.
Booker was wrapping up a weekend tour of poor Southern communities struggling with environmental impacts from businesses and industry. He visited Alabama earlier in the trip and Plaquemines Parish to see the effects of coastal erosion, climate change and industrial pollution.
And apparently, he learned only what he already knew, that there is a cost to industrial development in this country.
We believe that Louisiana has been a patsy for corporate wishes before. Just look at our tax subsidies, continuing even as the state's Treasury is drained of money that could be generated for education, health care and infrastructure.
But we would point out the realities of dealing with industrial growth: Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Chuck Carr Brown, who was at the church during Booker's visit, pledged to look into the residents' concerns but mostly listened. In a later interview, Brown said he will help push for an emergency exit route that many St. James Parish residents have asked for on the west bank, which has been heavily promoted for years as a site for industry.
What Louisiana government, and industry itself, is doing to reduce emissions might not square with a photo-op, but should be issues that the senator from New Jersey should ponder.
ST. JAMES — Visiting rural western St. James Parish on Monday, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New …