Technical Air Quality Fellow
Public Lab, Louisiana (Remote)
Technical Air Quality Fellow
Public Lab - St. James Parish community - Cancer Alley, Louisiana
For years, the St. James Parish community in Louisiana, already struggling with extreme pollution, has been fighting to keep out new industry. The historically black, and now elder, community hosts no less than 11 industrial facilities spanning their mere 258 square miles These include refineries, a fertilizer plant, a steel company, an asphalt company, and several chemical companies. Formosa Plastics, is slated to be a new 2,500 acre project just one mile from an elementary school (Center for Biological Diversity). As a company, Formosa has been a historic bad actor. In its other facilities around the world, it has been the cause for the largest private citizen lawsuit under the US federal clean air and water laws, caused many community threatening and deadly explosions, been the source for major chemical releases, and created at least one major superfund site.
On August 18, 2021 the US Army Corps of Engineers announced it would “require a full “environmental impact statement” (EIS) for the massive petrochemical complex Formosa Plastics proposes to build in St. James. The decision is a major victory for opponents of the plant, who sued to block the project in January 2020, and convinced the Army Corps to suspend its permit” in fall of 2019 (Center for Biological Diversity). For this EIS, the company will be required to “provide a baseline for understanding the current environmental situation” and should also include air, water, historical and economic impacts of the project (AmericanBar.org).
The aim for this project is to regularly collect particulate matter and other air quality monitoring data to grow the body of evidence on the existing levels of pollution to show the pollution burden already borne by the St. James Parish community. We aim for this information to be used in the open comment period of the EIS with the Army Corps of Engineers, to educate and bring others into this work, and provide scientific evidence for why further pollution sources such as the Formosa Plastics, should not be developed in this community.
The major components of this fellowship are to:
- Support the fellowship team to develop a particulate matter air monitoring program for St. James parish community, and possible subsequent air monitoring tests.
- Teach on air monitor setup, installation, and maintenance.
- Provide technical support for collecting data.
- Support the group’s data analysis and data communication needs.
- Create understandable and readable materials for those interested in the project to understand the scientific aspects of this work.
- Help draft, review and share public comment materials for the Environmental Impact Statement and any other open commenting opportunities that arise around this issue.
The workflow around this fellowship will include
- Regularly meeting with the fellowship team (twice a month), working closely with the community on project goals.
- Be available for technical and in the field support for monitors.
- Independent work on data analysis and drafting project materials.
- Share the materials for project documentation on the Public Lab website and other mutually identified media platforms.
- Advise on mechanisms of support required for the Fellowship team.
Starting: November 1, or ASAP
Commitment Period: roughly 6-8hr/week November - June
Fellowship Stipend: $6,600USD in total over the commitment period.
Where: This fellowship is open to anyone and is remote; phone in team meetings will be held in CT and be grounded in community efforts in Louisiana. Candidates who are within driving distance of St. James Parish, Louisiana strongly encouraged to apply.
Requirements for the position: This fellowship will require remote work abilities, comfortable working across diverse stakeholder groups, and strong communication skills (verbal/written).