Twitter – U.S. Army orders environmental review of Louisiana plastics project
The company and law firm names shown above are generated automatically based on the text of the article. We are improving this feature as we continue to test and develop in beta. We welcome feedback, which you can provide using the feedback tab on the right of the page.
Aug 18 (Reuters) – The U.S. Army on Wednesday ordered a full environmental review of a proposed Formosa Group (1301.TW) petrochemical plant in St. James Parish, Louisiana, opposed by local groups concerned about the health impact on an area overburdened with pollution.
The review of the “Sunshine Project” in St. James parish in Louisiana, which could take years, will be conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to a memo posted on the Twitter feed of an Army Civil Works official.
“As a result of information received to date and my commitment for the Army to be a leader in the federal government’s efforts to ensure thorough environmental analysis and meaningful community outreach, I conclude an EIS process is warranted to thoroughly review areas of concern, particularly those with environmental justice implications,” Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army Jaime Pinkham said.
An EIS is an environmental impact statement conducted for major infrastructure projects.
Taiwan-based Formosa maintains an “unwavering commitment” to St. James Parish and the state of Louisiana and will “continue to work with the Corps as we receive more guidance on the additional evaluation,” according to Janile Parks, a spokesperson for the Sunshine Project.
But local activists who have led a high-profile fight against the $9 billion project hailed the news as a victory for the environmental justice movement.
“Nobody took it upon themselves to speak for St. James Parish until we started working to stop Formosa Plastics. Now the world is watching this important victory for environmental justice,” said Sharon Lavigne, campaigner with RISE St. James, who led the fight against the plant.
Louisiana’s Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, supports the project as an economic driver for his state. His office was not immediately available for comment.
Local activists have pressured the seven-month-old Biden administration to halt construction of the massive petrochemical and plastics complex in a Louisiana region nicknamed “Cancer Alley,” home to several major petrochemical facilities and refineries where black residents suffer high rates of cancer.
The project had been on temporary hold since November, after the Army Corps suspended its Clean Water Act permit for further review amid a lawsuit brought by local environmental groups.
President Joe Biden has made environmental justice a core part of his climate and environmental agenda, and has promised to ensure that communities that live at the fenceline of polluting facilities are protected from additional air and water pollution.
In March, a group of UN human rights experts criticized the Formosa project, which would be built in a poor black community, as “environmental racism.”
“We hope this is the nail in Formosa’s coffin,” said Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, one of the groups that has fought the construction of the plant.
Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; additional reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Howard Goller, Steve Orlofsky and Marguerita Choy