- Plastic Pollution
- 60,000 activists tell JPMorgan Chase: Denounce, divest and defund Formosa Plastics’ toxic and racist petrochemical complex
60,000 activists tell JPMorgan Chase: Denounce, divest and defund Formosa Plastics’ toxic and racist petrochemical complex
by Marcie Keever, oceans & vessels director
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Plastic pollution poses a major threat to the health of our oceans, waterways and communities. Unsurprisingly, the same fossil fuel companies driving our global climate crisis are also expanding harmful petrochemical production throughout the United States, turning their own toxic waste into products they can profit off of. These facilities are disproportionately concentrated near low-wealth areas and communities of color in places like Louisiana, the Texas Gulf Coast and the Ohio River Valley, causing a range of harmful health impacts such as endocrine disruption, cancer, infertility and reproductive harm.
Petrochemical companies such as Formosa Plastics often look to big banks and other financial institutions to help fund their toxic facilities. That’s why frontline communities are rising up in full force to tell banks that these dirty, racist and risky industries have no business in their backyards.
Almost 60,000 activists signed a petition from RISE St. James, Friends of the Earth, Earthworks and a coalition of environmental and social justice organizations telling JPMorgan Chase bank not to invest in Formosa Plastics and denounce the company’s proposed Sunshine Project in St. James Parish, Louisiana. The new petrochemicals complex would be in “Cancer Alley,” a predominantly Black community along the Mississippi River already sickened from the air and other toxic pollution from over 200 industrial plants.
This week, our friends at GreenFaith and Dayenu delivered the petition to JPMorgan Chase’s New York headquarters during the bank’s Annual General Meeting. The groups educated those present about the harmful and unjust proposed Sunshine Project, read the petition out loud and led a spiritual grounding and blessing before handing the petition to bank staff.
Photos courtesy of Erik McGregor
The petition notes that the proposed Sunshine Project could increase toxic air emissions by 800 tons yearly, increase greenhouse gas emissions by 13.6 million tons yearly and destroy the burial grounds of enslaved ancestors of some of the current population of St. James Parish. United Nations human rights experts have also called for an end to further industrializing “Cancer Alley,” describing the high concentration of industrial plants along an 85-mile stretch of the Mississippi as a case of “environmental racism.”
The petition demands JPMorgan Chase:
- Publicly denounce environmental racism and the Sunshine Project
- Publicly commit to not directly or indirectly finance the Sunshine project or related projects
- Cease and refrain from any financing of Formosa Plastics and its affiliate companies (loans, asset management, underwriting of debt and equities)
- Invest in community-led, environmentally responsible alternatives in St. James Parish, Louisiana
Even though JPMorgan Chase has made pledges to “responsibly invest” and support racial equity, it is the largest US financier of the plastics industry and still holds shares in Formosa Plastics. It’s time they act on their promises. A commitment by JPMorgan Chase not to invest in the Sunshine Project and Formosa Plastics would send a strong signal that this toxic and racist petrochemicals complex is simply “uninvestable.”
More plastics production and toxins in our environment and our bodies is the last thing we need. When enough people band together to fight injustice, true change can happen.
There is strength in numbers, and tens of thousands of us agree: JPMorgan Chase must invest in communities, not Formosa Plastics.