Advancing Environmental Justice in Louisiana
In the humid bayous of Louisiana, where cypress trees sway and brown pelicans fly, amid the aromas of gumbo and the rhythm of jazz, people are facing increased toxic emissions required for the production of even more petrochemicals and plastics.
Promoting a deceptive narrative that greenhouse gas emissions can simply be filtered, piped, and then injected underground — known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) — this buildout across the Gulf South threatens to worsen environmental racism and increase the toxic burden on communities. This perpetuates a generations-old pattern: The fossil economy in Louisiana is deeply connected to the old plantation economy, vestiges of which still plague today’s policies and investments. Indeed, the buildout is primarily planned in close proximity to Black communities descended from people previously enslaved, often situated on or near ancestral burial grounds.
CIEL works with local communities and partners to build the analysis, research, and legal strategies deployed to defend communities against the plastics and chemicals buildout. Our reports, factsheets, and press releases have been used by local partners in the Louisiana Against False Solutions coalition in their efforts to resist carbon pipelines and injection wells in their communities — and anywhere. CIEL has partnered with local advocates to build grassroots power for community meetings, journalists’ workshops on the risks of CCS, meetings with local elected officials to advocate against carbon expansion, and the submission of public comments to regulators.
This year, CIEL facilitated the submission of over 20,000 public comments to the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent Louisiana from fast-tracking CCS permits. Not only did we expand understanding of the dangers and risks of carbon pipelines and wells, but Louisiana’s application to control carbon dioxide waste injection is currently delayed by nearly a year. This progress came on the heels of the nullification of permits for the Formosa Plastics Group in September 2022 after a lawsuit brought by one of CIEL’s partners, which halted construction of its planned plastics and petrochemical complex in St. James Parish, Louisiana.