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Lawmakers ask Biden to revoke permit for major plastics plant over pollution concerns

Lawmakers ask Biden to revoke permit for major plastics plant over pollution concerns
© Bonnie Cash

Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinPolitical disenfranchisement is fueling environmental injustice White House names members of environmental justice panel Democrats reintroduce measure to address racial disparities in environmental impacts MORE (D-Va.) are asking President BidenJoe BidenCornyn, Sinema to introduce bill aimed at addressing border surge Harris to travel to Northern Triangle region in June Biden expected to formally recognize Armenian Genocide: report MORE to revoke a key permit for a major plastics plant in Louisiana, arguing that it will add significant amounts of pollution to an already overburdened area. 

The Democrats asked Biden to revoke a permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers for the facility, which would be constructed in a heavily polluted area of Louisiana sometimes referred to as “Cancer Alley.”

“We write today to urge your administration to permanently revoke the construction permits ... for the Formosa Plastics petrochemical complex located in St. James Parish — deep in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley,” McEachin and Grijalva, the House Natural Resources Committee chairman, wrote to Biden on Wednesday. 

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“This disastrous project is an affront to environmental justice and contrary to your goals to reduce pollution in frontline communities,” they added. “Formosa Plastics is the largest proposed new source of greenhouse gases in the nation, and, if completed, would compound adverse health effects, exacerbate racial inequality, and be among the largest polluting facilities in the United States.”

ProPublica found in 2019 that the air around the site has more cancer-causing chemicals than 99.6 percent of the country’s industrialized areas. 

The lawmakers also raised concern about the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions that would come from the project. 

A White House spokesperson didn’t respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

The facility would be operated by FG LA LLC, part of the Taiwanese company Formosa Plastics Group.

FG’s director of community and government relations, Janile Parks, said in a statement that the project will be constructed with "emissions reduction mechanisms in place and extensive measures to protect the environment" and that it will operate safely.

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“The entire petrochemical industry is under attack by national environmental activist groups opposed to all industrial development,” Parks said.

The permit in question was suspended late last year, as the Army Corps of Engineers said in court that it “warrants additional evaluation.”

“We continue to believe the permit awarded to FG by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is solid and meets all legal criteria and will ultimately be affirmed following the additional Review,” Parks said in the statement. 

Meanwhile, local environmental advocates have also called for the project to be canceled. 

“This is a climate bomb. This would be a bomb for the planet,” Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, told The Hill. “We think it warrants President Biden’s attention, and his attention now.”