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Entergy Admits To Hiring Contractor That Paid Actors

Michael Isaac Stein
The Lens
The Rev. Gregory Manning speaks during a news conference at City Hall on Thursday. Opponents of the plant are calling on City Council to rescind its approval.

The controversy continues over actors who were paid to attend public meetings and speak in support of a new Entergy power plant in New Orleans East.

The city recently approved a plan by Entergy to build a new gas-fired power plant. Opponents have fought it for several years, saying the plant is unnecessary and will pollute the surrounding area – where many Vietnamese and African American residents live.

Some of the public meetings have been heated.  A report by The Lens last week revealed some of the people who showed up to support the new plant were actually paid actors.

In a statement issued Thursdsay, the company acknowledged that it hired a private PR firm, Hawthorne Group, which then hired another company, Crowds on Demand. Crowds on Demand then paid about 100 people to attend the meetings and pose as supporters of the plant.

Opponents of the plant held a press conference at City Hall Thursday.

Janice Long, of the social justice organization Justice and Beyond, wants the Council to rescind approval of the plant.

"This is corrupt, and that's not how we want our city to run. We want the people to be able to have access in a democratic way to the processes for vetting Entergy's project through the City Council," says Long.

Monique Harden is a lawyer with the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, which has filed a lawsuit against the city over the plant.

"I've never ever come across a situation where when you go into a public hearing you are in the midst of people who have been who are actors," says Harden.

City counselors plan to launch their own investigation into the matter.

Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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