Sharon Lavigne, RISE St. James
Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade
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Opponents of Formosa Plastics’ proposed petrochemical complex in St. James Parish, Louisiana gathered outside the company’s annual shareholder meeting in Taipei, Taiwan today to demand Formosa abandon the controversial project. That demand was supported this morning by project opponents in Louisiana at a live-streamed gathering, where they also called for the St. James Parish Council to withdraw its approval of the project.
Proposed in the heart of a historic Black community, Formosa’s Sunshine Project would be one of the world’s largest plastics plants. Bloomberg Businessweek has reported that the company is building in Louisiana because the facility’s pollution would not be allowed in Taiwan. The facility would mean the destruction of 5th District communities, including Freetown, founded by enslaved people who fought for and won their emancipation.
With annual proposed greenhouse gas emissions of 13.5 million tons, Formosa’s Sunshine Project plastics plant would be the largest new source of greenhouse gases of any oil, gas or chemical infrastructure project in the United States. According to the company’s own information submitted to the state, the facility would double the toxic air pollution in St. James Parish. In nearly 70 incidents between 2000 and 2018, Formosa was fined more than US$20 million by the US federal government across at least six sites in the US. And in December 2019, Formosa settled with frontline environmental advocates for $50 million, the largest environmental penalty ever paid to community groups, after a federal judge held the company was a “serial offender” against environmental laws.
Concerned residents and activists from around the world spoke in opposition to Formosa’s proposal:
“Formosa Plastics shouldn’t be allowed to build this plant in our community or anywhere else. If Formosa comes into Saint James Parish, it will be a death sentence for so many of us who reside on the East and West of the Mississippi River. St James Parish Council should do its job and protect us by withdrawing Formosa’s land use permit.” — Barbara Washington, RISE St. James Member and St. James Parish Resident
“Formosa will destroy our land, homes, and most of all our lives. Our air and water are polluted and we can’t take anymore. They will not be good neighbors.” — Sharon Lavigne, RISE St. James Founder and St. James Parish Resident
“I was honored to be asked by my American friends fighting tirelessly against Sunshine Project to help share their voices with Formosa Plastics’ shareholders and general public in Taiwan. Formosa wants to hide the huge risks Sunshine Project brings to the local community, environment and the climate. We gathered many Taiwanese environmental and human rights NGOs and Formosa Plastics’ victims outside Formosa Plastics’ annual shareholder meeting, to raise awareness about Sunshine Project and the shadows behind it. Unfortunately Formosa cowardly avoided questions about the project.” — Huiting Hsu, Taiwanese organizer of the Taipei demonstration outside Formosa’s annual shareholder meeting
“Why should we poison yet another Black community to make plastics we don’t need from fossil fuels that drive us towards climate catastrophe? We shouldn’t.” — Ethan Buckner, Earthworks Energy Campaigner
“Formosa Plastics should listen to this community and abandon this terrible project. It would pollute an African American community already in poor health just to make more plastic the world doesn’t want or need. Communities, oceans and our climate would all be harmed by Formosa’s massive plastic plant.” — Delia Ridge Creamer, Campaigner for Center for Biological Diversity
“The Formosa Sunshine Project was sold to investors on the premise of a positive future for plastics and to local decisionmakers with a promise of good local jobs—but neither of those seems real. The oil, gas, and plastic sector is in long-term decline, and petrochemical plants like the Sunshine Project clearly pose a significant risk to human health and economic security. The Sunshine Project will bring devastation and disappointment to St. James Parish.” — Jane Patton, Senior Campaigner, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
Original post by Earthworks