This report was produced as part of ivoh’s Restorative Narrative Fellowship.
On the evening of January 6, Louisiana state regulators issued 15 key permits to the Taiwanese petrochemical corporation Formosa for its $9.4 billion plastics manufacturing complex proposed for the historically black area of St. James Parish. Word spread today about the approvals, which pave the way for the project’s construction, opposed by local and national environmental advocates.
Sharon Lavigne, a demure, 67-year-old recently retired special-ed teacher born and raised in St. James Parish, cried when she heard the news. Her community along the Mississippi River is already saddled with petrochemical plants and oil storage tanks, which release known carcinogens into the air that she fears are making her and her family sick.
I spoke to Lavigne, who has tirelessly fought the project since the fall of 2018, just after news broke of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s (LDEQ) decisions for Formosa.