Army Corps Halts Permit for Multi-Billion-Dollar Petrochemical Complex in Louisiana
Public and climate health received a two-handed boost in Louisiana last week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pressing pause on a proposed US$9.4-billion petrochemical complex, and voters rejecting an amendment that would have exempted Big Oil in perpetuity from paying property taxes.
The Army Corps’ decision to re-evaluate the wetlands permit for Formosa Plastic’s Sunshine Project, slated for development in the infamously polluted St. James Parish region (aka Cancer Alley), came a day before a crucial deadline in a lawsuit being pursued by a coalition of environmental and community groups, writes DeSmog Blog.
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
Launched in January, the coalition’s suit alleges the Army Corps “neglected to disclose the environmental damage and public health risks of the plastics facility under the National Environmental Policy Act”—risks that include wetland destruction, further pollution of the Mississippi River (from which New Orleans draws its drinking water), and a doubling of air pollution in a region already repeatedly red-flagged by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The plaintiffs further allege that the Army Corps “failed to adequately consider the harm to cultural resources such as slave burial grounds on the site, which is a violation of the National Historic Preservation Act,” adds DeSmog.
Anne Rolfes, founder of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, a co-litigant in the case, said she’s never seen the Army Corps revoke a permit in her 20 years of work in environmental justice. “It was time for the Army Corps to defend this permit in court and they obviously didn’t feel that they could do it,” she told DeSmog. “I think it shows that what we’ve been saying all along is right: that the permits are fatally flawed and indefensible.”
Equally indefensible, said a majority of Louisiana’s citizens, was a proposed amendment that, had it been passed during the November 3 election, would have given the petrochemical industry a permanent pass on paying property taxes. New Orleans Public Radio reports that at least 62% of voters gave a thumbs down to that idea.