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Judge sends plastics plant permits back to state

St. James Parish
Posted at 12:26 PM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 13:26:23-04

A judge has thrown out the air permit for a massive new plastics complex in St. James Parish, telling regulators to start from the beginning, our media partners at The Advocate report.

It's a major blow to the proposed $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics complex, the newspaper reports. Gov. John Bel Edwards and local leaders have praised the project, saying it could create 1,200 jobs and generate millions in tax revenue.

But local environmentalists and community groups have sued to stop the complex, saying it would pump huge amounts of dangerous pollution into majority-Black, low-income communities.

In a scathing, 34-page ruling Wednesday, 19th Judicial District Judge Trudy White sided with the plaintiffs. She said the state Department of Environmental Quality wrongly approved the permit without doing a full environmental justice analysis to see if the plant would disproportionately affect minority communities, the Advocate reports.

The newspaper reports that White wrote that DEQ did not live up to its own definition of environmental justice — that no group of people should bear a disproportionate negative impact from industry.

"LDEQ's definition of 'fair treatment' requires more of the agency than mere lip service or opportunities for public involvement," White wrote, referencing a seminal state Supreme Court case on the agency's public trust duty. "Rather, it demands 'active and affirmative protection.'"

To read the whole story with all the details and background, click here.