Major A Community Voice Victory on Formaldehyde

Hurricane Katrina survivors win court battle against feds on regulating formaldehyde


Feb 16, 2018 – 3:33 pm

Hurricane Katrina survivors won a court battle involving FEMA trailers on Friday.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was to start regulating formaldehyde, a chemical used to treat wood products, in December. The chemical has been linked to nose and throat cancers as well as respiratory ailments.

However, the agency decided to postpone enforcement for at least a year, saying companies needed more time to prepare for the new rule.

The New Orleans-based group A Community Voice fought back, noting that Hurricane Katrina survivors were sickened by the formaldehyde used to manufacture components of the trailers deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for use as temporary housing.

“There is no simple ‘long-term fix’ for the side effects of formaldehyde poisoning, since the poisoning begins immediately. … So, the Formaldehyde Emissions Standards must be put in place immediately. We have waited far too long,” A Community Voice Vice President Vanessa Gueringer wrote in a statement issued Friday.

Jeffrey White, a federal judge in California’s northern district, agreed. He ordered the EPA and plaintiffs to report back March 9 with a timely plan to enforce the rule.

“At long last, the EPA will protect people from hazardous formaldehyde in everyday furnishings and building materials,” wrote Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman, who represented the plaintiffs.

Since Katrina, FEMA has changed the type of temporary housing offered to survivors of natural disasters.


Action Alerts: Full Funding for Flood Protection Now

Funding for the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program is at risk. These funds are used to elevation homes, acquire and demolish flood prone buildings and protect our neighborhoods from flooding.

Please contact Senator Bill Cassidy (202) 224-5824  online contact form and Senator John Kennedy (202) 224-4623  online contact form

Tell them how much Louisiana and the rest of the country needs full funding for flood protection.

Talking Points 
  • I’m concerned and urge you to oppose inclusion of Sec. 2009 of the H.R. 4667, the 3rd Disaster Supplemental passed by the U.S. House of Representatives this past December.
  • Sec. 2009 would siphon scarce dollars away from FEMA projects that help people and communities reduce their risk of flooding and allow Corps of Engineers projects to receive funding through a backdoor.
  • The Corps already spends 9 times more on levees and stream channelization projects than FEMA does on home buyouts, home elevations, and protecting public infrastructure.
  • FEMA’s funds need to stay put and not be diverted to more costly and less cost-effective Army Corps of Engineers projects.
  • Please oppose inclusion of Sec. 2009 in any disaster supplemental that the U.S. Senate votes on.

ACV Members Fighting Against Trump/Ryan Tax Plan

November 16, 2017

U.S. Senators

John Kennedy

Bill Cassidy


Clay Higgins

To Whom it May Concern:

A Community Voice and our allies ask you to please do consider that the overwhelming majority of your constituency will be hurt by the proposed Trump/Ryan tax bill. We are aware that the Congressional Budget Office states that it will trigger automatic Medicare cuts of $400 billion over the next decade. How many Louisianans will die from this?

It is a massive transfer of wealth from the working people to the super – rich. Please do stop the repeal of the estate tax and the pan to increase taxes on working people, folks with disabilities, seniors and those who need health care.

The fact that this is being rushed through Congress right now is terrible and against ethical representation. What a thing to do as Christmas nears! The take from the poor and let them die practice to give more wealth to the super rich must be stopped. It is unfair, undemocratic and unChristian.

Lanny Roy


A Community Voice


Town Hall on the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans

November 14th, 2017

Town Hall with Justice & Beyond on the dysfunction of the Sewerage & Water Board in New Orleans. 

  • ACV supports the Full platform of our allies in the struggle to reform SWB especially no privatization ever.
  • ACV also supports a lower rate structure for low to mdoerate income people, especially the elderly and disabled residents.
  • Flooding is a problem for many reasons, and it includes that it discourages former residents from returning.
  • The SWB needs a full-service plan to remove all lead lines in the entire system.  We would like the details of this plan to be calendarized and made transparent.
  • The SWB needs to manage a program that includes a long-term plan to audit each residential property to notify the owner and residents of all sources of lead in their system, as well as to install certified filters at the main  faucet used for drinking and cooking in each residence. and to train the residents how to replace the filters.



ACV Joins EarthJustice on a Lawsuit for EPA to Follow Restrictions on Formaldehyde

October 31, 2017
San Francisco —Today, the New Orleans-based group A Community Voice and the Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stick to a firm and final deadline for compliance with the Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for wood products made, imported and sold in the United States.

The unlawfully-postponed standards limit the amount of hazardous formaldehyde gas that can be released from various types of wood products, including materials often used in emergency housing and inexpensive furniture.

Congress passed in 2009—and President Barack Obama signed in 2010—a law requiring the EPA to issue a final rule by 2013, limiting formaldehyde emissions from certain wood products, but EPA missed the deadline. Although EPA finally published the formaldehyde standards in December 2016, with compliance required one year later, the Trump administration recently extended the compliance deadlines by one additional year.

Today’s lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. It charges that the EPA’s extension oversteps the agency’s authority and is illegal.

Formaldehyde is used to bind plywood, particleboard and other wood products used in a wide array of consumer products, such as paneling, flooring, cabinets, furniture and recreational vehicles (RVs). It is a carcinogen that also causes or exacerbates respiratory ailments, and was blamed for numerous illnesses among Gulf Coast residents housed in travel trailers and mobile homes supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

“It is outrageous that people recovering from this year’s hurricanes might have to deal with the same health issues in their emergency housing that the EPA has known about—and was supposed to address—years ago,” said Earthjustice attorney Patti Goldman. “It is long past time to put an end to cheap, imported wood products that needlessly make people sick.”

Members of Louisiana’s A Community Voice have witnessed these health problems firsthand.

“Formaldehyde is so dangerous for our health that A Community Voice is fighting to have it regulated more, not less,” said Debra Campbell, A Community Voice secretary-treasurer. “We believe that many of us have had harms to our health due to living in FEMA trailers after Hurricane Katrina, including my own mother’s suffering from COPD. We need more regulation of toxins, not less. Thankfully, Earthjustice is on the case.”

The Sierra Club has been involved with this issue for a decade, in dialogue with such groups as the Composite Panel Association and the nonprofit National Center for Healthy Housing to make California’s tough, state formaldehyde standards the federal requirement.

“It is completely unacceptable that the EPA is attempting to delay this lifesaving, commonsense rule that will protect families’ health and safety and create jobs here at home,” said Leslie Fields, director of the Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Program. “The very last thing people who are recovering from natural disasters should have to worry about is whether their housing is making them sick.”

It is critical that the EPA no longer be allowed to drag its feet and continue to allow the use of dangerous wood products that harm people’s health.

Read the legal document.

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