Louisiana environmental justice advocates to benefit from Bloomberg campaign | Environment

An $85 million campaign launched Wednesday by Michael Bloomberg aims to help environmental justice advocates in Louisiana and elsewhere take a stand against petrochemical and plastic pollution.

The campaign, titled “Beyond Petrochemicals: People Over Pollution,” builds on previous efforts of its kind that have targeted coal and carbon, according to a statement from the former New York City mayor’s Bloomberg Philanthropies. It will focus its lobbying support on three main areas: Louisiana, Texas and the Ohio River Valley. Louisiana native Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., who leads the Hip Hop Caucus advocacy group, will serve as campaign chair.

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Its goal will be to work to “block the expansion of more than 120 proposed petrochemical projects,” the statement said.

Local groups benefiting include Rise St. James and the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Both have campaigned against plant expansions in what activists have dubbed “Cancer Alley” along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Environmental groups argue that black communities in the area have been exposed to unwarranted pollution and the associated health risks. Companies operating such plants point to the jobs and investments they bring and say they have been working to reduce emissions.

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“Petrochemical plants are poisoning our air and water—killing Americans and harming the health of entire communities. And with many highly polluting new projects planned in the US, we are at a critical moment to stop them,” said Bloomberg, a UN special envoy for Climate Solutions, in the statement: “This campaign will help to secure more local victories, support legislation that protects communities from harm, and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling the climate crisis.”

The announcement highlighted two recent environmental justice victories in Louisiana. These include a judge’s decision to revoke air permits for a massive Formosa Plastics proposed complex and the defeat of the South Louisiana methanol project in the parish of St. James.

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The campaign intends to strengthen community leadership, fund studies and engage in litigation as part of its work, the statement said, adding that such efforts will become especially important as the world transitions to renewable energy.

It pointed to estimates showing that petrochemical applications will account for nearly half of oil demand growth by 2050 and will surpass carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2030.

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