By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Formosa Plastics Group still intends to build and operate a massive plastic and petrochemical plant proposed for Louisiana, the company said on Thursday, despite a judge’s decision to revoke its state air permits.
FG LA, a unit of Formosa, said in a statement that it “intends to explore all legal options” and continue to pursue permitting of its proposed “Sunshine Project,” a $9.4 billion industrial complex in Louisiana’s St. James Parish, where local Black residents have waged a years’ long battle to block construction on what they consider sacred land.
Baton Rouge District Judge Trudy White on Wednesday canceled Formosa’s permit, ruling in favor of environmental and local community groups, who appealed the decision by Louisiana’s Department of Environmental Quality to issue air permits to Formosa Plastics (1301.TW) because the company failed to demonstrate that its emissions would not “cause or contribute to” violations of the federal air standards.
FG spokesperson Janile Parks said it disagrees with the opinion.
“We believe the permits issued to FG by LDEQ are sound and the agency properly performed its duty to protect the environment in the issuance of those air permits,” she said in a statement, adding that it intends to “construct and operate it to meet all state and federal standards.”
Local campaigners like Sharon Lavigne, founder and president of RISE St. James, an organization that has fought the plant for years, said the decision shows that local communities – often comprised of marginalized minorities – cannot be ignored in decisions to build major industrial projects.
“The judge’s decision sends a message to polluters like Formosa that communities of color have a right to clean air, and we must not be sacrifice zones,” she said.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Aurora Ellis)