On September 12, 2022, a judge revoked fourteen permits issued by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (“LDEQ”) for a new plastics manufacturing facility under the Clean Air Act.
The permits were issued in 2020 to Formosa Plastics Group but were immediately challenged by citizen groups on environmental justice, public trust, and administrative procedure grounds. The court noted that EPA’s screening tool, EJSCREEN, “shows that the communities closest to the [proposed] site are in the 95-100th percentile for cancer risk associated with exposure to toxic air pollutants from industrial sites” and found LDEQ’s failure to consider cumulative impacts in making its permitting decision to be unlawful. According to the court, LDEQ incorrectly determined the facility demonstrated it would not “cause or contribute to” air pollution violations, and that by approving the permits, LDEQ was “allowing the chemical complex to participate in violations of federal air standards.”
This ruling comes as EPA is placing an emphasis on EJ considerations in permitting nationwide. The Formosa challenges are likely a preview of further permitting challenges to come across the country.