Louisiana is home to a swath of land along the Mississippi River, stretching from Baton Rouge to New Orleans infamously nicknamed “Cancer Alley” due to the concentration of Petrochemical facilities and a legacy of environmental racism. Its Gulf Coast plays host to export facilities.
Our work is to support impacted residents and communities, particularly in St. James Parish, to raise public pressure in opposition to new petrochemical development on historically marginalized and already overburdened communities.
We specifically support RISE St. James and the Formosa Campaign Coalition in canvassing and engaging Parish Councils to pass resolutions opposing the proposed Formosa plastics facility. Due to public pressure and coordinated campaigning led by RISE St. James, the proposed Formosa plastics complex in St. James Parish, Louisiana faces major delays. Formosa has indefinitely suspended its financial investment decision, and in Aug 2021, the Army Corps of Engineers required a lengthy full EIS be conducted.
The effort to build municipal opposition to the St. James petrochemical complex is gaining momentum. Thanks to organizing by Kaitlyn and others in the coalition, two city council resolutions were passed in 2021: Westwego, LA in April of 2021 and in that same month New Orleans City council passed a resolution in opposition of the construction of the Formosa “Sunshine Project.” In the Fall/Winter of 2021-2022, The Stop Formosa coalition will target the St. James parish council in efforts to get a resolution passed; this will be a challenging 6-7 month pressure campaign.
Earthworks continues to apply pressure on the project’s financiers, publicly launching our Defund, Denounce, Divest campaign in April 2021. Earthworks and Friends of the Earth continue to anchor the finance campaign, alongside RISE St. James, BankTrack (EU), Avaaz (Taiwan), Justice for Formosa Victims in Vietnam (US/Vietnam), Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for International Environmental Law, and Sunrise Project. We circulated a sign-on letter to more than two dozen potential project financiers, insurers, and major shareholders in April 2021, leading to our first finance campaign engagement with CalPERS. We are continuing to field responses and conduct due diligence with our finance targets and over the summer, targeted Chase Bank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America as the three potential financiers of the Formosa “Sunshine Project” in St. James parish.
We continue to host virtual toxic tours, educating the public on the bad actor that Formosa Plastics continues to be. The No Formosa Finance group circulated multiple petitions calling for certain banks, such as Chase Bank and Bank of America, to publicly denounce the possibility of funding the Sunshine Project in St. James Parish. Additionally, the No Formosa finance group produced a series of webinars where folks took direct action in real time, nationally targeting those same banks. The group has engaged many banks across the world by writing letters and asking for a meeting to present reports to the stakeholders and highlight the environmental racism of Formosa plastics in communities across the world.