The Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) is a community based not-for-profit organization that has been working since 1986 to resolve the unique environmental struggles present in Louisiana. Through education, empowerment, advocacy, and support; LEAN provides the necessary tools and services to individuals and communities facing environmental problems. Problems that often threaten their health, safety and quality of life.
The purpose of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) is to foster cooperation and communication between individual citizens and corporate and government organizations in an effort to assess and mend the environmental problems in Louisiana.
In 1986 a group of concerned citizens gathered in Baton Rouge to share stories and offer support for the environmental struggles their communities were facing. Mothers, fathers, plant workers, community members, doctors, lawyers, and everyday citizens from around the state came together because they all were facing severe environmental challenges and no one was adequately addressing their concerns. Within this solidarity and combined purpose the Louisiana Environmental Action Network was formed. From the original founders to the almost 30 years of work, LEAN brings the experience and expertise of countless community members and professionals together to build a powerful resource for anyone working to resolve the environmental challenges that Louisiana faces.Many of these community members and environmental experts are represented on LEAN’s board of directors. LEAN has been on the forefront of the environmental movement in Louisiana, building and supporting countless individuals and organizations to create a more aware, engaged and empowered public.
Although LEAN has had a long history and produced an enormous array of work, the organization operates with a relatively small staff. LEAN’s Executive Director, Marylee Orr was one of LEAN’s founders and has led the organization for over 25 years. She, along with Technical Director Wilma Subra bring a combined 70+ years of experience to addressing environmental challenges in Louisiana. The experienced female leadership of Marylee and Wilma has pioneered community empowerment and environmental problem solving in Louisiana. LEAN’s field work and multi-media capacity have been expanded by Paul and Michael Orr, Marylee’s sons, as LEAN has evolved into a multi-generational family organization. LEAN brings decades of experience and vast historical knowledge to each new issue while continuing to champion new and cutting edge strategies for protecting and improving the health, safety and quality of life for Louisiana communities.
What we do
If you need LEAN’s assistance with your environmental concern, contact us here.
At the core of LEAN’s work is the assistance we provide communities in dealing with their environmental challenges. LEAN has assisted communities with concerns involving environmental and health related impacts from air pollution, hazardous waste, water pollution, landfills, injection wells, municipal water treatment facilities, private water systems, paper mills, industrial incinerators, natural disasters and industrial accidents, to name a few. LEAN services
- assessing, documenting, and monitoring environmental concerns
- educating individuals, communities, organizations, businesses and elected officials about environmental challenges in Louisiana
- organizational support and leadership development for communities organizing around a local environmental issue
- technical support to individuals and communities working to resolve an environmental concern. Examples of technical support include:
- permit review
- drafting public comments
- analysis of environmental data
- chemical sampling (air, water, soil, biota)
- multi-media production of educational resources specific to Louisiana’s environmental challenges
- promoting public participation in government processes related to environmental decision making
- facilitating dialogue and conflict resolution between communities, private industry and government agencies
- outreach and advocacy with local, national and international media outlets
Louisiana is a culturally rich and diverse landscape. Most of the communities LEAN serves are low-income, minority populations whom often have been termed “environmental justice” communities. These populations consist of African American, Native American, Vietnamese, Cajun, and Creole communities. These underserved populations repeatedly bear the burden of Louisiana’s industrial economy and generally do not have the means to purchase the assistance or representation necessary to make sure that their concerns are heard or that their needs are considered. LEAN’s work aims to correct this. The education and empowerment of these constituencies aims to ensure that their needs are represented in the environmental decisions that affects their health, safety and quality of life.
What people say about LEAN (Accolades / Testimonials)
LEAN is one of the oldest and most effective and successful state wide citizen’s environmental and social justice organizations in the United States. Since 1985 LEAN has helped hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals across Louisiana and all but a small number have been very successful in dealing with or solving their issues and problems.– William Fontenot
I have been involved with LEAN for 20 years give or take. In that time I have seen communities get better sewage service, cleaner drinking water, healthier air to breathe, industry held accountable for healthier neighborhoods and so much more. When federal and state government fails to do the job LEAN is there to help citizens who have no where else to turn, When there is a disaster LEAN comes to the aid of people sometimes faster than the government. I am proud of my association with this unique and effective organization. I firmly believe that it is not too much to say that the State of Louisiana is a better healthier place to live because of LEAN. – Cheryl Slavant
LEAN is the “Hub” of the environmental communications of Louisiana.LEAN provides a platform for communications among communities, environmental groups, governments, and businesses. – Gwen Wang
The Louisiana Environmental Action Network is a champion not only for the environment but for all of the residents of the Gulf Coast.They are the first responders in environmental emergencies, tireless stewards of our natural resources, and the conduit that connects science with communities for preserving and advancing environmental health.We are immeasurably enriched by their efforts. – Sharon Petronella
LEAN provides a way for citizens and communities to stand up for their health and safety in the face of powerful forces who have no interest in either of those things. Without LEAN, there is no state-based organization in Louisiana working for environmental and economic sustainability across a wide range of issues, without consideration of political benefit or standing. – Doug Daigle
Louisiana without LEAN is like a blind man without his guide dog: LEAN serves as the eyes, ears and conscious of, and the guide and guard for the environment in Louisiana. – Florence T. Robinson
LEAN is our David in the battles for a clean environment against polluting Goliaths, LEAN victories mean a better economy and quality of life for all of us. – Dr. Paul Templet
LEAN is the rock of relationship that the environmental movement in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast has stood on for more than a quarter century. – Paul Ringo
LEAN has my back because we can’t always rely on governments or corporations to look out for the well being of our physical environment, the air my family breathes, the water we drink, the land we live on (and garden in). – Chris Frink
Without LEAN, ordinary citizens who are faced environmental hazards would not have an organized non- governmental safe haven, always willing to listen, irregardless of who may be affected, and even most paramount, who may be the culprit. – Beau Brock
LEAN is a strong and powerful voice for those whose voices have become weary and weak from frustration and hopelessness. – Kathy R. Wascom
LEAN has been an enormous help to our understanding of critical environmental issues impacting the environment and health of Louisiana citizens. More importantly, they represent those of us that are marginalize or disenfranchised by the corporate interest that exploit our resources and pollute our water, soil, and air. – Steve Kolian
LEAN means a dedicated, hard working network of environmental and public health advocates, who are the first on the ground and the last to leave when disaster strikes. LEAN means a healthier and more habitable Louisiana for the current population, future generations and all species. – Shanna Devine
Awards & Recognitions
The LEAN staff have been lucky to be recognized over the years for their work addressing Louisiana’s environmental problems. See below for a list of a few of these awards.
- 2014Lafayette Democratic Parish Executive Committee Excellence in Leadership Award – Wilma Subra
- 2012 Jane Bagley Lehman Award from the Tides Foundation – Marylee Orr
- 2011 Global Exchange, Human Rights Award – Wilma Subra
- 2011 Lifetime Remarkable Woman – Wilma Subra
- 2010 Atchafalaya Angel Award – Marylee Orr
- 2009 Louisiana Association for Justice Public Service Award – Marylee Orr
- 2009 Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s Environmental Leadership Award as the Individual of the Year for Environmental Advocacy and Community Outreach – Marylee Orr
- 2008 OMB Watch Public Interest Hall of Fame Inductee – Marylee Orr
- 2008 Conde’ Nast Traveler Environmental Award, runner-up – Marylee Orr
- 2007 Certificate of Appreciate for outstanding performance and lasting contribution on the Louisiana D.E.Q. Statewide Solid Waste Initiative – Marylee Orr
- 2005 Gary L Groesch Community Activist of the Year – Marylee Orr
- 2004 Volvo for Life, Environmental Finalist – Wilma Subra
- 2003 P.A.M.S. Award – Marylee Orr
- 2002 Appointee to the State of Louisiana Advisory Task Force on Funding and Efficiency of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality – Marylee Orr
- 2002 P.A.M.S. Award – Marylee Orr
- 2001 P.A.M.S. Award – Marylee Orr
- 1999 MacArthur Fellow – Wilma Subra
- 1999 Louisiana Communities United – LEAN
- 1997 Inductee into the Center for Health, Environment & Justice Grassroots Hall of Fame – LEAN
- 1991 United States delegate to the Global Assembly of Women and the Environment – Marylee Orr