This week on Behind The Lens: emotional testimony at a public hearing on proposed changes to state environmental cleanup standards.

On March 1st — the Friday before Mardi Gras — the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality held a hearing to take public comments on a big change in state regulations.

DEQ’s Risk Evaluation/Corrective Action Program, or RECAP, has been around since 1998. This regulation establishes “minimum remediation standards for present and past uncontrolled constituent releases.” Put simply: When an oil & gas company or similar industry leaves a mess at a work site in Louisiana, RECAP rules dictate what they have to cleanup.

Now, DEQ says it wants to revise RECAP standards, possibly reducing the costs of remediating sites across the state. But opponents of the move warn it would allow polluters to leave more toxic waste at sites across the state.

We have a couple of excerpts from last week’s testimony. First is Wilma Subra, a chemist representing the Louisiana Environmental Action Network. Subra presented a brief technical assessment of the proposed RECAP revisions.

Not all of last week’s testimony was technical in nature. Some of it was deeply personal. We have an extended portion of comments by Gene Leblanc. He’s an Ascension Parish resident; he and his family live near the infamous Sorrento landfill.

Tom Wright is a staff writer and producer covering the environmental beat for The Lens. He also hosts and produces The Lens' podcast Behind The Lens. His previous work includes investigative producing...