Louisiana Emergency Response Commission

The Louisiana Emergency Response Commission (LERC) grew out of what was originally known as the Hazardous Material Information Development, Preparedness, and Response Advisory Board.

In the summer of 1985, the Louisiana Legislature created the Hazardous Material Information Development, Preparedness, and Response Act. It was landmark legislation which, in part, stated that Louisiana citizens have a right and responsibility to know about and protect themselves from risks and effects of hazardous materials in their environment.

The law required owners and operators of certain businesses or research operations to report information about certain hazardous substances to the State Department of Public Safety and Corrections. It provided, in part, for local governing authorities to designate a local repository to provide information to the public upon request. Its provisions covered a limited amount of notification, administrative penalties for failure to report, monitoring and enforcement, initial funding, an annual fee to cover the cost of maintaining and expanding an information system and other aspects of hazardous material reporting.

Congress subsequently passed SARA Title III in 1986. It required that the governor of each state appoint a SERC to implement an information system pertaining to SARA Title III. Governor Edwin Edwards issued an executive order that same year to create the LERC.

In July 1987, the Louisiana Legislature amended Louisiana's Right-to-Know Law with Act 347. The new legislation aligned State statutes with federal law when possible. Some provisions of State law remain more stringent than federal law. The 1987 act also abolished the Hazardous Material Information Development, Preparedness, and Response Advisory Board and replaced it with the LERC.

As a result of Louisiana's early move to establish its own Right-to-Know law, the LERC was the first SERC established in the United States in accordance with SARA Title III.

Louisiana also led the rest of the country in compiling data required under the federal law because much of the same information had already been submitted under Louisiana's first Right-to-Know law.