I am deeply discouraged by the results of today’s organized conference call with legislators, state agencies, and the Environmental Protection Agency that was to take place at 1:00 p.m. to discuss the plans to open burn 16 million pounds of M6 explosives at Camp Minden. After many hours of preparation, the conference call was cancelled three minutes before one o’clock.
Peggy Hatch, the Director of LADEQ, called to notify me of this cancellation but the only explanation provided was that the phone number had been compromised and there were people invited to the call who should not have been. I could easily speculate about what is truly driving this cancellation; but I won’t. It is clear, however, that the actions of myself, US Senator David Vitter, and many others are receiving little support from the State of Louisiana.
Following this announcement of cancellation, I immediately received phone calls from Senator Vitter, Congressman Fleming, and the Director of Region 6 EPA Carl Edlund. Vitter and Fleming are both disappointed that the call did not take place and have agreed to work harder to pull the entire delegation together to unite on this issue.
My discussion with Director Edlund resulted in a verbal commitment to consider an extension on the implementation of the contract selection process so that further research and data can be presented to uphold the EPA’s claim that an open burn is safe for our citizens and environment. He and I will be meeting next Tuesday in Shreveport with Dr. Brian Salvatore, Vitter’s office, and Fleming’s office to further discuss the research that has been presented. It is our role as your elected officials to act responsibly to review all data presented to determine what methods truly are or are not safe. To not do so would be careless and irresponsible. We need comparative data on both sides for full review.
I know this issue is not finished; and I will not back down in pushing for a safe solution. In the meantime, I encourage the public to continue taking a strong approach of voicing your concerns to your various elected officials and to the media; and I sincerely ask for your continued support and prayer as we navigate this difficult situation. I will, as always, continue to keep the public informed of the actions of this office.
Gene Reynolds is state representative for District 10 which covers Webster Parish.