Environmental Roadblocks to Petrochemical Projects

The petrochemical industry has long flourished in Texas and Louisiana. Most viewed the positive benefits of the industry, such as job creation, economic growth, and the payment of state and local taxes, as outweighing the potential negative effects of the industry’s emissions or discharges. Over time, those emissions and discharges have been substantially reduced due to regulatory controls, advancements in control technologies, recycling and waste minimization, and a desire by industry to reduce its overall pollution footprint.

During the campaign, Mr. Biden said he wanted to “end fossil fuel.” Well financed environmental groups, now supported by and aligned with sympathetic personnel in regulatory agencies, seem to take this to heart and actively oppose any industry utilizing fossil fuels. The petrochemical industry, from producers, to pipeline companies, to refineries, and to manufacturers, have borne the brunt of this opposition, both in litigation and public opinion. These organizations and agencies actively use any argument or theory available to hinder and erect roadblocks to any new project or any expansion of an existing project.

An important arrow in the quiver has become environmental justice. Although the concept has been around for decades, environmental justice has been elevated to a top priority by the EPA under the Biden Administration. Over the last two years, EPA has infused the concept into its rulemaking, enforcement actions, permitting decision, remediation efforts, and grant awards to the public. EPA has also affirmatively signaled to groups opposing industry that it will take action against industrial facilities opposed by the groups.

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