NEW ORLEANS – New York Attorney General Letitia James and four other attorneys general sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today requesting a more in-depth analysis of the impact of Formosa Plastics’ massive proposed petrochemical complex in St. James Parish , Louisiana.
“I am grateful that these attorneys general understand the threat Formosa Plastics poses to us and call for action,” said Sharon Lavigne, founder of RISE St. James. “The Army Corps needs to listen and properly analyze a project that would endanger our lives. Because I believe that an honest assessment of the environmental racism behind the approval of this project will never be allowed. We have to stop Formosa Plastics. “
In November, the Army Corps suspended approval of the project after it was sued by the Center for Biological Diversity, RISE St. James, Healthy Gulf, and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Another 20 organizations and thousands of individuals asked the Army Corps to investigate the environmental impact of the project and the role racial prejudice and systemic racism played in the location of this facility in an already polluted, low-income black community.
“We are delighted that these attorneys general are joining our coalition’s call for a closer look at the terrible Formosa Plastics project at the federal level. Any serious analysis should lead the Army Corps to reject this major threat to public health and our climate, ”said Julie Teel Simmonds, attorney at the center. “We cannot allow industry to pollute another black working class community as it creates mountains of plastic that the world doesn’t want or need. I hope this letter will help convince Formosa Plastics to give up this dangerous project. “
The growing chorus of project opponents includes the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which in March called the project “environmental racism” and called on US officials to reject the project. The initial approval from the Army Corps also ignored the complex’s water, air, and health effects and failed to protect the gravesites of enslaved people discovered on the property.
“It is refreshing to see that officials are actually acting in the interests of the people they serve. Louisiana officials, including our attorney general, remain keen on the oil and chemical industries, ”said Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “We’re glad that at least some attorneys general actually have a backbone, and we’re grateful for their support. We will continue to urge the Biden government to stand up for environmental justice and permanently revoke the permits for this project. “
The petrochemical complex proposed by Formosa Plastics would include 10 chemical manufacturing facilities and numerous support facilities. The complex would emit 13.6 million tons of greenhouse gases and 800 tons of toxic air pollution each year, doubling toxic air emissions in St. James Parish, which is already some of the worst air quality in the country.
“We are grateful that these attorneys general are urging the Army Corps to do the right thing,” said Michael Esealuka, organizer at Healthy Gulf. “There are already over a dozen industrial sites near the black working-class communities in St. James Parish. An environmental justice analysis by the Formosa Plastics Project will reveal what the community’s long-time residents have said: St. James is full. “
By converting fracked gas into the building blocks for large quantities of single-use packaging and other wasteful plastic products, the project would exacerbate climate change and the oceans plastic pollution crisis.
Today’s letter was sent by attorneys general in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia. In their letter, they said their states will be affected by the project and its insufficient review, undermining national policies on environmental justice, climate change, loss of wetlands and protection of migratory birds.
“Without such an analysis,” they wrote, “the plastic complex will inevitably have adverse health, environmental and climate effects that will harm our nations.”