St. James Planning Commission Approves Formosa Facility Despite Community Opposition
(St. James Parish, LA)
Opponents of the proposed Formosa chemical plant vowed to fight on after the St. James Parish Planning Commission approved the facility on a 7 – 2 vote. Planning Commission member John Lawrence, voting against the project, said that “from Texas to Vietnam, Formosa has a terrible track record.” The statement was made after a paid Formosa spokeswoman, the only person who spoke in favor of the facility, told the commission “don’t trust us, track us.”
The opposition, led by local group RISE St. James, has planned a march for this Saturday, November 3rd.
Eighteen people spoke out against the Formosa facility, with no supporters other than the paid Formosa representative who acknowledged that jobs would go to people from out of town, promising to use local hotels and motels. “We won’t get the jobs, but we will get all the sickness,” said Chastity White, a leader with RISE St. James who opposes the project. “My son suffers from asthma, and what will I be able to leave for him with this coming in and ruining us? Nothing. Nothing.”
Ms. White engaged the Formosa public relations officer and the issues management firm Harris Deville and Associates after the hearing as the officials tried to make a quick exit from the room. Formosa’s use of the high powered firm, as well as its engagement of former Governor Edwin Edwards, shows the depth of opposition it faces from residents throughout the parish. Opponents to the project lived in wards throughout St. James, as well as New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
“The St. James Planning Commission approved the plant after hearing unanimous, heart-wrenching testimonies from the residents of St. James, describing the devastating impacts of the existing petrochemical infrastructure on their health and pleading with the commission not to permit another gigantic chemical plant to move in and tear their community apart even further,” said Renate Heurich of 350 New Orleans. “The only voice arguing for the plant was from the company. None of the commissioners saw the need to even respond to the pleas of their community before voting yes. As much as this hurts, St. James is rising; our fight for air we can breathe, water we can drink and soil we can plant in has just begun.”
In its permit applications, Formosa detailed plans to emit millions of tons of industrial pollutants every year, threatening local communities that already have high rates of cancer and other preventable diseases.
Chastity White, RISE St. James, 225-206-2673, email@example.com
Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, 504-452-4909, firstname.lastname@example.org