Act in Solidarity with RISE ST JAMES to Stop Formosa Plastics

BACKGROUND

On May 28, 2020, UUMFE & UUA Green Sanctuary Program’s Environmental Justice Practitioners Network welcomed grassroots environmental justice organizers Sharon Lavigne and Diane Wilson to speak about the environmental justice impacts of the plastics industry. The video above is an excerpted call to action. You can watch the full webinar recording here.

Sharon Lavigne, founder of RISE St James, has “a fight on her hands” in the words of Diane Wilson (an “unreasonable woman” who just won the largest civilian Clean Water Act settlement in US history) —

“Sharon’s got one of the worst, rogue international polluters in the world [Formosa Plastics], and one of the biggest chemical plants, landing on her front door… Formosa Plastics has been exposed as a serial polluter that has deceived our communities. The council needs to protect public health, keep plastic pollution out of the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico, and reconsider the damage this project would do. We’ve learned so much about Formosa since the council approved this terrible project. I’ve seen the damage Formosa does to the environment.”

Formosa is proposing to build one of the world’s largest plants for turning fracked gas into plastic pellets, which would double the toxic air pollution in a largely African American community known as Cancer Alley because of health problems related to industrial pollution.

Even after discovering that the proposed site for the plastics plant was discovered to be a slave burial ground,  the St. James Parish and the company have refused to slow down.

“In December, we asked [St. James Parish Council] to rescind the vote [to allow the facility] because of these burial sites and we haven’t heard back. We asked for a moratorium last summer and never heard back. They need to do something,” Lavigne said. “How do we get the Parish Council to protect our community and the grave sites of our ancestors? They should listen to us, not just Formosa.”

The company has also previously refused to allow Sharon Lavigne & others with RISE ST. JAMES to go visit the grave sites, despite laws protecting this right — and so they plan to go out there again to honor their ancestors on Juneteenth (6/19).

TAKE ACTION

When asked by Rev. Karen Brammer (Manager of the UUA Green Sanctuary Program) how UUs could support her efforts, Sharon had some concrete requests:

  1. Call the Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards: (225) 342-0991
    In addition to asking him to intervene to stop the Formosa plant, consider thanking him for vetoing HB197, a bill that would have heavily criminalized the activism of RISE ST. JAMES.
  2. Call the St. James Parish Council President & Members
    “BEG them to please rescind their vote [to approve the Formosa facility], re-do it again and tell Formosa to hit the road.” – Sharon Lavigne

See below for Parish Council contact information, additional resources and a sample template.

St. James Parish City Council

P.O. Box 106
5800 Highway 44
Convent, LA 70723
Phone: 225-562-2260

St Pierre, AlvinChairman, District 1Alvin.Stpierre@stjamesla.com225-869-4132
Amato, JasonCouncilman, District 2jason.amato@stjamesla.com225-869-8347
Louque, RyanCouncilman, District 3ryan.louque@stjamesla.com225-206-2285
Bland, MasonCouncilman, District 4mason.bland@stjamesparishla.gov225-623-6115
Cooper, ClydeCouncilman, District 5clyde.cooper@stjamesla.com225-806-4996
Etienne-Steib, VondraParish Council, District 6vondra.steib@stjamesla.com
Nash, DonaldCouncilman, District 7donald.nash@stjamesparishla.gov225-916-6392
Hubbell, LindaCouncil Secretarylinda.hubbell@stjamesla.com225-562-2400
Martin, CodyLegal Advisorcmartin@cmmartinlaw.com

 

Sample Message:

Hello,

My name is [insert name]. I am a resident of [City/State] and I am [emailing/calling] today to demand [a VETO of HB197 for being an egregious violation of the US Constitution’s first amendment, and] the rescission of the approval of the Formosa Plastics facility in St. James Parish.

Formosa is proposing to build one of the world’s largest plants for turning fracked gas into plastic pellets, which would double the toxic air pollution in the largely Black communities of St. James. This area is already known as Cancer Alley or Death Alley because of health problems related to industrial pollution pollutants that are highly dangerous to the environment and the surrounding communities. This is a clear case of environmental racism. As a person of faith and conscience with the Unitarian Universalist church, I am compelled to reach out in solidarity with the organization RISE ST. JAMES  and the Parish residents who are directly impacted by the damage that would be caused by Formosa. PLEASE do the right thing — set up a meeting with RISE ST JAMES, put in place a moratorium in new industrial development and expansion projects, and take action now to stop this Formosa Plastics facility.

There are numerous resources and information sheets available at stopformosa.org/
if you need to learn more.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  1.  Follow the Rise St. James Facebook page to keep up to date information about the fight for the St. James community, children and health.
  2. There are numerous resources and information sheets available at: https://www.stopformosa.org/ 
  3.  Visit the Break Free From Plastic webpage to learn more about “the global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution.
  4. Check out The Story of Plastic documentary, to witness how the situation in St. James fits into the disastrous global pattern of environmental racism that undergirds the consumer capitalist “throw away culture”.

Watch the full EJPN webinar with Diane Wilson & Sharon Lavigne here:

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