By Pam Radtke for Floodlight and the Guardian
After residents of America’s “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana put a national spotlight on their fight for a healthy environment, the state’s economic interests and petrochemical giants are backing the creation of a new “sustainability council” to counter grassroots activists, documents show.
In recent years, the activists have successfully fought construction of two multibillion-dollar plastics facilities and what would have been the nation’s largest methanol plant. The growing concerns have caught the attention of the Environmental Protection Agency, which earlier this year sued a manufacturer of neoprene in the state for not doing enough to reduce its cancer-causing air emissions.
Now, those same groups are receiving millions of dollars from Michael Bloomberg and his Beyond Petrochemicals campaign, and the Louisiana energy and chemical companies along with the states’ business-boosting groups have, in turn, created the Louisiana Industry Sustainability Council – originally called the Industry Defense Council.
“If they could do this with no money, imagine what would happen if they in fact had money,” said Beverly Wright, founder and executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, one of the recipients of money from the Bloomberg campaign, an $85m effort in Louisiana, Texas and Pennsylvania targeting 120 new proposed petrochemical facilities. “They should be scared.”