BATON ROUGE, Louisiana: In a major blow to a project that has faced years of local opposition, a district court judge in Louisiana has canceled air permits for a plastic and petrochemical plant proposed to be built along the state's industrial coast.
Baton Rouge District Judge Trudy White ruled in favor of environmental and local community groups, who appealed the decision by Louisiana's Department of Environmental Quality to issue air permits to Taiwanese firm Formosa Plastics for its Sunshine Project.
In her opinion, Judge White wrote, "Because the agency's environmental justice analysis showed disregard for, and was contrary to substantiated competent public evidence in the record, it was arbitrary and capricious."
The decision is the latest blow to the proposed $9 billion petrochemical and plastics complex in a Louisiana region nicknamed "Cancer Alley," which contains several major petrochemical facilities and refineries.
After deciding the original assessment of the project failed to properly evaluate its health impact on local communities, in August the U.S.
Army ordered a full environmental review of the project. Nikki Reisch, director of the climate and energy program at the Center for International Environmental Law, said the decision sends a clear message to companies that they cannot ignore the voices of local
"The Court's decision affirms that the harm caused by an industrial facility, whether a plastics plant or a fossil fuel refinery, cannot be assessed in isolation from surrounding sources of pollution or from the broader context of the mounting climate emergency, disproportionately harming marginalized communities," Reisch said.