Travis Lux

Contributing Reporter

Travis Lux primarily contributes science and health stories to Louisiana's Lab. He studied anthropology and sociology at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, and picked up his first microphone at the Transom Story Workshop in Woods Hole, MA. In his spare time he loves to cook -- especially soups and casseroles. 

One group of forecasters has decreased its 2018 hurricane season forecast from above-average to below-average.

There are typically about 12 named storms in the Atlantic during hurricane season.

Over the past century, Louisiana has lost more than 2,000 square miles of coastline, leaving it more vulnerable to storms, flooding and sea level rise. State officials have been fighting back, building levees, artificial marshes and barrier islands. Now they want to harness the muddy Mississippi River, diverting its sediment-rich waters into shrinking marshes and wetlands.

LSU unveiled a big, new model of the lower Mississippi River Monday. It will be used to simulate floods and help the state figure out how to use the river to rebuild the coast.

Legendary musician Antoine “Fats” Domino passed away last week. New Orleanians celebrated his life and career with a second line parade Wednesday night. The whole thing started at Vaughan's, a bar in the Bywater. The intersection out front was packed by 5 p.m.

People were selling cold drinks and cotton candy. There were barbecue booths atop portable trailers. One person was wearing Fats Domino fat-suit complete with paper mache head, but most were wearing some shade of blue — a reference to the titles of some of Domino’s most famous songs like Blue Monday and Blueberry Hill.

Exxon Mobil will settle air pollution cases with the federal government and the State of Louisiana.

 

The feds and the state of Louisiana claimed that Exxon Mobil violated the Clean Air Act by releasing excess amounts of harmful pollutants from eight of its chemical plants.

 

Five of those plants are in Texas. Three of them are in the Baton Rouge area.  All of them make either plastic, or chemicals for plastic — according to EPA officials.

Four years ago, the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East (SLFPA-E) filed a lawsuit against dozens of oil and gas companies, claiming they damaged the coast and made levee protection more difficult.

 

The board had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review a previous court's decision, but now the Supreme Court says it won’t — effectively killing the lawsuit.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has been looking for ways to repeal the Clean Power Plan — the Obama administration's policy to reduce carbon emissions at local power plants.

For decades, oil and gas companies dug canals through Louisiana's marshes looking for oil and building pipelines.

Those canals are one of the big causes of coastal land loss. Now a handful of parishes are suing the oil and gas companies over that damage.

It seems like filling the canals back in with soil would be a good way to fix the damage, but that's not part of the state's new Coastal Master Plan.

Tropical Storm Harvey is expected to make yet another landfall tomorrow morning. This time in Southwest Louisiana.

 

Over the last few days, Harvey has dropped more than 20 inches of rain on parts of Southwest Louisiana. Five hundred people were rescued in the Lake Charles area Monday night due to flooding.

 

The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where the oxygen is so low that fish and shrimp can’t live.

 

Scientists say this year’s dead zone is 8,776 square miles now -- about the size of New Jersey. Over the last five years it’s averaged 5,543 square miles.

 

It’s caused largely by agricultural runoff from the Midwest, and brought downstream by the Mississippi River. That runoff is high in nitrates, from fertilizer, which causes algae to bloom. When the algae dies, it sucks oxygen out of the water.

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