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Excerpts from Judge White’s Ruling to Remand Formosa Air Permit Back to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality

The following are excerpts from the hearing as spoken by Judge White in the matter of Formosa Plastics’ air permit for its proposed facility in St. James Parish, Louisiana. The abbreviation LDEQ refers to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Read the full transcript here.

I agree that the environmental justice analysis was inadequate in this particular case. (p. 4)

Inherent, in the court’s opinion, in a robust environmental justice analysis is the recognition that environmental racism exists, and that environmental racism operates through the state’s institutions. An objective evaluation of Louisiana’s and LDEQ’s institutional power is influenced by the attitudes and actions of the institution’s personnel, its policies, its laws, its practices, its structures and its history. The operation of the institutional power may be intentional or it may be unintentional. Even though an institution may operate within the legal parameters, the institution may not be righteous, or just in its actions.

An environmental justice analysis is more than LDEQ going through the motions of soliciting public comment, and then – and then giving lip service to an analysis, or not even having a procedure in place as to how to conduct the review itself with respect to an environmental justice analysis. And then, take it a little further, just ignore or discard community input. (p. 4-5)

To provide service to the people of Louisiana through a comprehensive environmental protection, to me, requires that permits to issue with a complete environmental justice analysis. I trust that LDEQ exercise its institutional power and balance the competing interests of the people of Louisiana. The people of Louisiana in this case, primarily being the citizens of Welcome, Louisiana, with the permitting process initiated by LGA – for its Formosa Plastics Complex, but I can’t say the LDEQ truly balanced the competing interests related to pollution and health risk, and that’s what the pollution and health risk is that what was before the court today.

I can’t say that they did that within a reasonable certainty, unless there is more pointed analysis in its basis for a decision. Conclusions without analysis is not enough. Show me the data on review. Show me the science. (p. 5-6)

In the interest of justice, the court remands the issue of pollution and health risk back to LDEQ for a more thorough environmental justice analysis. (p. 6)