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Stop the petrochemical boom

Delivery to U.S. Congress

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What’s At Stake

Seeing our all-electric, 100% clean-energy future, Big Oil is grasping at straws to protect its profits by betting on petrochemicals. As we replace coal and gas plants with solar and wind, and swap out diesel engines for electric motors, the fossil fuel industry is trying desperately to find new uses for its toxic and planet-warming product. It’s going to transform those resources into a torrent of plastics, industrial chemicals, and pesticides that worsen the climate crisis and pollute our air and water — putting everyone’s health at risk. As a respiratory virus infects millions, we can’t afford to increase petrochemical production and harm our lungs any further.

The negative impacts of the petrochemical boom will not be distributed evenly, as the polluting facilities are deliberately sited in communities of color and low-income communities. For example, Formosa Plastics is planning a new petrochemical facility in the 5th District of St. James Parish in Louisiana — a predominantly Black community in an area that is known as Cancer Alley because of all the toxic infrastructure concentrated there and corresponding high rates of cancer. This facility will produce as much carbon as three million cars and triple the area’s already-elevated exposure to carcinogens all so that it can produce needless plastic waste. Residents of the parish are organizing to stop this terrible injustice, but they are fighting a well-resourced and powerful industry — which is why we need to act in solidarity.

The oil and chemical industries have helped create a status quo where pollution and health issues are concentrated in communities of color and low-income communities while profits and power are accumulated by companies who seek to further exploit people and the planet. We can reverse this, but it will be much more difficult if Congress kick-starts the petrochemical boom. Please join us in telling your member of Congress we can’t afford to subsidize this harmful industry.

Petrochemical facility
iStock

Smoke stacks and distillation towers at a large petrochemical plant are silhouetted against the golden evening sky.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.