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Who Is LEAN and Why Do They Want to Kill New Orleans?
Hurricane Katrina resulted in multiple types of damage to Louisiana and Mississippi, damage to people, damage to property, and damage to a unique culture. The hurricane also resulted in environmental damage. However, the need for environmental cleanup work in New Orleans appears to have opened the door to extremists who have their own agenda, an agenda that could slow down if not terminate efforts to bring the city back to life.

The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) is an environmental watchdog group that is critical of efforts to quickly repopulate New Orleans, ostensibly on environmental grounds. For example, according to LEAN's website, they joined with "the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health and other organizations from around the nation to request safe working conditions during the cleanup..." which sounds perfectly reasonable until you look at the details.

The open letter to Congress from LEAN/NCOSH specifies numerous steps that would greatly slow the recovery effort e.g.,"it is imperative that work areas be presumed to be contaminated and that appropriate precautionary measures be implemented until the work environment is demonstrated to be safe." Furthermore, "EPA should conduct comprehensive environmental sampling to characterize the nature and extent of environmental hazards and NIOSH and OSHA must conduct a comprehensive assessment of the hazards post [sic] to recovery workers."

The LEAN/NCOSH letter also states that "All cleanup workers (public and private sector, paid and unpaid) should receive the appropriate OSHA-required training and equipment for protection against the hazards to which they may be exposed." and that provision "must be made for early detection and treatment of occupational, environmental, and psychological illnesses" among workers and residents.

In short, no one would be able to patch a roof, replace a pane of glass, or sweep their sidewalk without going through as massive time-consuming bureaucratic process. If LEAN had their way, New Orleans could be effectively shut forever.

All of which raise the question, who is LEAN (and for that matter NCOSH)? There is no clear answer. Although the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health sounds like a governmental body, it is actually an NGO that describes itself as a "federation of non-profit organizations around the United States that advocate for worker safety and health."

LEAN also describes itself in a rather fuzzy way. LEAN calls itself a "statewide umbrella group with many member groups that it has helped to organize. LEAN provides these member groups, as well as individual citizens, with the support and resources required to accomplish their environmental goals."

So, LEAN organizes and pays for the groups that are its members. It all sounds rather self-dealing to Winston. Other than an Executive Director, LEAN's website does not seem to list any people who are responsible for the organization. LEAN's address, according to their website, is a P.O. box in Baton Rouge. LEAN's website requests contributions but there is no indication that they are an IRS-certified tax exempt organization. Or that they are not a tax exempt organization.

Although LEAN has no discernable structure, a lot of money seems to flow through the organization. For example, a news story on an NGO website stated that "LEAN members provided an airdrop of food, water, and medical supplies to the trapped residents of St. Bernard and Plaquemine Parishes...." Airdrops are not cheap. Which may explain why the story also states that "LEAN is also working hard now to raise more funds...."

Where does LEAN get their money, how is it spent and where, if anywhere, is there accountability?

Could LEAN be a mean, no-so-clean, environmental money laundering machine? Winston doesn't know the answer, but it is an interesting question.

  • Click here for LEAN website
  • Click here for Registry of Displaced New Orleans Musicians


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