"EPA's first environmental justice chief was left gasping for breath when she visited an industrial town in Louisiana to tout her office's work in 1997.
'I was surrounded by big, gigantic petrochemical [facilities]. The grain elevator was shooting grain all over the place. Kids were out there jumping rope,' Clarice Gaylord, now 77, recalled during a recent interview from her home in San Clemente, Calif. 'I couldn't breathe.'
Gaylord had traveled to Norco, located about 25 miles west of New Orleans and squeezed between a massive Shell refinery and chemical plant in the heart of the state's infamous Cancer Alley. The town's name — drawn from 'New Orleans Refining Co.' — is a billboard for its main industry: oil."