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USA: Environmental activists opposing a plastics manufacturing facility in Louisiana have been charged with 'terrorizing' lobbyist

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Article
25 June 2020

Louisiana environmental activists charged with "terrorizing" for nonviolent stunt targeting plastics giant

Author: Alleen Brown, The Intercept

Civil liberties attorneys are calling the charges a dramatic escalation of a yearslong effort by the fossil fuel and petrochemical industries to criminalize efforts to halt the expansion of polluting facilities in the state — part of a nationwide trend of cracking down on dissent around climate change issues... The Taiwanese petrochemical company plans to build a massive plastics manufacturing complex in a largely Black Louisiana community that has already suffered health problems linked to local industry. In October, Formosa agreed to a $50 million settlement for dumping pollutants, including the small pellets that form the building blocks for plastic products known as nurdles, into Texas’s Lavaca Bay — the largest settlement of a Clean Water Act lawsuit filed by private citizens.

... What apparently terrorized community members, however, was a container of the pellets that appeared on the porch of an oil and gas lobbyist, with a detailed note attached, explaining what they were and their Texas origin. “We have delivered this package of nurdles as a reminder – Louisiana does not need anymore pollution, plastics or otherwise,” the letter said... The Baton Rouge Police Department apparently agreed that the plastic particles were threatening.

... Rolfes and McIntosh, who are respectively the director of and a program assistant at the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which provides support to groups of community members living near polluting facilities, face a maximum of 15 years in prison and $15,000 in fines for so-called terrorizing.

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Article
25 June 2020

US climate activists charged with 'terrorizing' lobbyist over plastic pollution stunt

Author: Emily Holden, The Guardian

Environmental activists opposing a plastics manufacturing facility in Louisiana have been booked with a felony for “terrorizing” an oil and gas lobbyist by delivering a box of plastic pellets found as pollution in bays on the Texas coast... The charges stem from a plastic pollution awareness event in December called “Nurdlefest”, which focused on the impacts of an expansive petrochemical and plastics complex approved to be built by Formosa Plasticsin St James Parish... The offenses are punishable with up to 15 years in prison. The advocates’ lawyer, Pam Spees, with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the charges have no merit and seem to be meant to discourage protesters. The complaint against the two activists alleges they intended to cause fear in dropping off a package at the residence of an unnamed oil and gas lobbyist, Spees said. The file folder contained plastic pellets and information about the harm they inflict on the environment and human health.

... Formosa has agreed to pay $50m to settle a lawsuit for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act by discharging plastic pellets into bays from its plant in Point Comfort, Texas. A spokesperson for the Formosa project, Janile Parks, said it was “unaware that this action was going to be taken by the Baton Rouge police department and had only heard second hand that deliveries of plastic pellets were made to several personal residences in the Baton Rouge area some months ago”.

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