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St. James Plastic Manufacturing Mega-Plant Could Be Canceled
Formosa Plastics Group is calling its planned $9.4 billion facility in St. James Parish the "Sunshine Project."

Work must be paused on a contentious plastic manufacturing mega-plant in St. James Parish after a motion in district court.

The Army Corps is considering whether to change, revoke or suspend the permit for a $9.4 billion complex being built by Formosa Plastics Group. It’s one of the biggest plastic manufacturers in the world. The state gave the company a $12 million grant to offset some of the costs.

The permit was called into question by environmental advocates who filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, alleging it failed to consider the harm to cultural resources, and failed to disclose environmental damage and public health risks under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Anne Rolfes with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, one of the groups that filed the lawsuit, said the sprawling manufacturing campus would damage wetlands and pollute nearby communities along the Mississippi River.

“A small Black community that is about to be wiped off the face of the earth by one of the biggest plastic plants in the world has, for the moment, won,” Rolfes said.

Sharon Lavigne with RISE St. James, also a plaintiff in the case, said, “I’m overjoyed by this news. This hopefully marks the beginning of our victory over Formosa Plastics.”

Lavigne has been fighting the project for years. The group has also appealed to the state to revoke the company's permit.

The decision on the company’s permit could now end up back in court, where a judge will decide the final outcome.

The Army Corps said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Formosa said it is working with the Corps and will comply with permitting requirements.

"The company has been very diligent to make sure it has done everything required to ensure proper issuance of, and compliance with, it’s permits and will continue to do so," spokeswoman Janile Parks said in a statement.

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Tegan has reported on the coast for WWNO since 2015. In this role she has covered a wide range of issues and subjects related to coastal land loss, coastal restoration, and the culture and economy of Louisiana’s coastal zone, with a focus on solutions and the human dimensions of climate change. Her reporting has been aired nationally on Planet Money, Reveal, All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Marketplace, BBC, CBC and other outlets. She’s a recipient of the Pulitzer Connected Coastlines grant, CUNY Resilience Fellowship, Metcalf Fellowship, and countless national and regional awards.

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