News Brief

Environmentalists Stop Petrochemical Plant Construction

Environmental activists have stopped permitting of a large petrochemical plant in Louisiana’s “cancer alley,” a rare win for the environment and local communities.

Cancer alley petrochemical plant stopped.

Formosa has been stopped—for now. Seen here is the company’s Mail-Liao Industrial Complex in Yunlin, Taiwan.

Photo: Malcolm Koo. License: CC BY 4.0.
St. James Parish is home to 12 petrochemical plants that make PVC and a number of other plastics. Located in Louisiana’s “cancer alley,” it is also the epicenter of fights over pollution, health, and social justice issues in the area’s historically black communities. When FG LA L.L.C., an affiliate of Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group, received state permits for a $9.4 billion dollar petrochemical facility—which would be the world’s largest—many thought its construction was a foregone conclusion, according to the New York Times. But for now, that construction has been put on hold.

A group of environmental advocates, including Rise St. James and Earthjustice, sued to stop construction. The judge sided with the advocates, citing concerns over data irregularities used for the permitting process, as well as potential health impacts to local residents, according to the Times. The factory—which would make polypropylene and polyethylene common in consumer and building products—has the potential to emit the carcinogen ethylene oxide, as well as more than 13 million tons of greenhouse gases per year, “roughly equivalent to what 3.5 coal-fired power plants would produce annually,” according to a report from the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).

Formosa Plastics has a poor environmental record around the world, according to CIEL. In its case study of the company, it states, “Formosa Plastics plants in the United States have been out of compliance with US EPA [environmental] regulations for 65 quarters, equivalent to over 16 years.” Despite this, state regulators had approved permits for construction prior to the lawsuit. The fight over the plant is not over, as the company is continuing to pursue permitting and construction.

Published October 10, 2022

Ehrlich, B. (2022, September 21). Environmentalists Stop Petrochemical Plant Construction. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/newsbrief/environmentalists-stop-petrochemical-plant-construction

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