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>> 97 4 From Deliberation to Dialogue We are human beings and will be treated as equals. —CCNS in St. Charles Herald-Guide, July 24, 2002 Nothing so destroys the sense of equality on which all pleasant social life depends as perpetual reminders that one member of the company out-ranks all the rest. When it is so, it is considered good manners for the pre-eminent one to keep quiet about it. —Robertson Davies, World of Wonders, 1976 When Orion first announced its Community Improvement Program, members of Concerned Citizens of New Sarpy (CCNS) saw the company as trying not only to divide the community but to “dictate to” it as well, by setting out terms without first consulting residents. The community group tried to change the nature of the interaction by calling for talks with refinery officials: on July 24, 2002, the week after Orion’s initial presentation of the program, CCNS ran a full-page ad in the local newspaper, inviting Orion CEO Clark Johnson to discussions about a REAL Community Improvement Plan including • Relocation • Pollution reduction including sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide • Installation of enclosed ground flare system • Reduction of coke dust in the neighborhood • Clean up for the drop yard (promised by Mr. Johnson one year ago) • Installation of perimeter air monitoring system 98 > 99 use of reason and reasoned arguments in their exploration of public issues.3 Elements of the ideal clearly informed residents’ and regulators’ visions of community-industry discussion. Statements by both groups, notably, emphasized that residents and industry must meet “as equals,” underscoring the egalitarianism demanded by deliberation. They also used the language of common good and common concern: CCNS’s ad frames the group’s campaign demands as essential parts of any discussion about how to make the community better, while the LDEQ’s description of its Community-Industry Panels refers to “issues of concern” in which all parties presumably share an interest. Finally, calls for talks imagine participants adopting a “reasonable” and “civil” tone—both preconditions of deliberation. Yet beyond invoking the ideal of reasoned, egalitarian discussion of the common good, the visions of deliberation held by CCNS and their supporters , on the one hand, and the LDEQ and industry officials, on the other, were actually quite different. Through its ad, CCNS called for talks in which their campaign goals would be explicitly acknowledged as subjects of discussion; talks that would be facilitated by a third party committed to making sure community members were heard; and talks in which LABB’s Anne Rolfes, lawyers from the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, a sympathetic scientist, and other environmentalist supporters would participate—talks, in short, like the ones that had led to Concerned Citizens of Norco’s (CCN’s) relocation agreement with Shell. Orion and government officials, in contrast, imagined discussions modeled on Community-Industry Panels established by the LDEQ and Community Advisory Panels (CAPs) popular throughout the chemical industry: discussions that gave industry and community representatives a chance to get to know one another as people, that transcended divisive and polemical rhetoric in part by excluding “outside” environmentalists , and that offered the opportunity for industry representatives to better understand community concerns and clear up misunderstandings about facility operations. Neither model, of course, fully embodied the ideal of deliberation. In fact, both activists’ vision for “deliberative negotiation”4 and industry’s and regulators ’ imagined “dialogue” can be considered neoliberal remakings of the liberal ideal, in that deliberations addressed not the state but private companies as key decision makers on public issues. However, unlike deliberative negotiation, dialogue is increasingly common as part of a larger suite of neoliberal approaches to environmental protection and environmental justice,5 including environmental agencies’ increasing interest in framing regulated industry as partners in problem solving6 and petrochemical companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility programs.7 100 > 101 community-industry dialogue thus served as a primary forum for industry scientists and engineers to assert their expert understandings of environmental and health issues while avoiding environmental justice criticisms of their claims—and to reestablish their authority over those issues in the wake of challenges presented during local campaigns. Deliberative Negotiations When they invited Clark Johnson to discussions, CCNS had in mind the kind of talks that had taken place between the Diamond community and Shell Chemical in Norco. From March until June 2002, at least two key Shell Norco managers, half a dozen representatives of Concerned Citizens of Norco, and several of CCN’s professional allies met regularly to discuss relocating two streets...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780814762394
Related ISBN
9780814762370
MARC Record
OCLC
828028184
Pages
240
Launched on MUSE
2013-05-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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