Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

This #GivingTuesday, whatever is your first priority, your second priority has to be independent media.

2021 has been one of the most dangerous and difficult years for independent journalism that we’ve ever seen. Our democracy is facing serial existential threats including the climate emergency, vaccine apartheid amid deadly pandemic, a global crisis for biodiversity, reproductive freedoms under assault, rising authoritarianism worldwide, and corporate-funded corruption of democracy that run beneath all of this. Giving Tuesday is a critical opportunity to make sure our journalism remains funded so that we can stay focused on all your priority issues. Please contribute today to keep Common Dreams alive and growing.

Please Help This #GivingTuesday -- Though our content is free to all, less than 1% of our readers give. We’re counting on you. Please help Common Dreams end the year strong.

For Immediate Release


Cate Bonacini, CIEL:

Press Release

New Report on Formosa Plastics Group Reveals Danger of Plastics Production

From Taiwan to Texas, Cambodia to Cancer Alley; Petrochemical Giant Poses Threat to Communities and the Environment

Formosa Plastics Group’s six-decade track record is riddled with environmental, health, safety, and labor violations, including devastating accidents and persistent pollution in multiple countries, according to a comprehensive new report released today. In profiling the past and present impacts of one of the world’s largest petrochemical and plastics producers, the report illustrates the profound risks that the industry poses to human rights and the global climate.

Formosa Plastics Group: A Serial Offender of Environmental and Human Rights (A Case Study) reflects two years of investigation and analysis of the conglomerate’s history by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the Center for Biological Diversity, and Earthworks. 

Among the findings documented in the report are:

  • Decades of regulatory violations in four countries, including ongoing and unaddressed environmental violations in the United States. 
  • Repeated serious accidents resulting in exposures, injuries, and loss of life among workers and affected communities.
  • Human rights abuses linked to multiple Formosa Plastics projects, including credible allegations of corporate inaction or complicity in the face of such abuses.
  • Litigation and investigation against the conglomerate or company executives in multiple jurisdictions on grounds including fraud and improper influence of public officials.
  • Disproportionate impacts on systematically exploited communities in several countries, especially Black, Brown, and low-income people perpetuate and exacerbate the history of systemic environmental racism against those communities.

The report’s in-depth look at the inherent dangers posed by plastics and petrochemical production comes at a time when oil and gas companies are increasingly tying their future growth to the demand for plastics and the oil- and gas-based petrochemicals used to make them. Chemical producers aim to increase plastic output nearly 40% by 2025. Formosa Plastics Group is among the producers with major expansion plans, including proposals to extend its existing operations in several locations.  

“The human rights and environmental harms associated with Formosa Plastics’ operations are egregious, but unfortunately not exceptional for the industry. Plastics and petrochemical production, like the fossil fuel industry that feeds it, is a dirty business, with dire consequences for communities and the climate. Expanding petrochemical production in the midst of multiple planetary emergencies is irresponsible; allowing a company with a track record like Formosa Plastics’ to do so is downright reckless,” said Nikki Reisch, director of the Climate & Energy Program at CIEL. “Few plastics and petrochemical producers are household names, but they are all too familiar to the fenceline communities that bear the brunt of the pollution and the threat of accidents from their facilities. 

Formosa Plastics proposes to construct one of the world’s largest new production facilities for plastics and plastic feedstocks in St. James Parish, Louisiana, in the heart of Cancer Alley. If constructed, the facility would exponentially increase already dangerous levels of air and water pollution in the surrounding predominantly Black community and would be one of the largest single sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. In response to community-led protests, in August the Biden Administration announced it would require a full Environmental Impact Statement (review) of the Formosa Plastics “Sunshine Project” proposal. 

“This report is a wake-up call that Formosa Plastics’ proposed “Sunshine Project” is an environmental and human rights disaster waiting to happen. For President Biden to make good on his environmental justice promises his administration must reject Formosa Plastics’ proposal,” said report co-author and Earthworks’ Infrastructure Campaign Manager Ethan Buckner.

“The people of Louisiana deserve a good, safe economy that is supportive of local communities and provides reliable, well-paying jobs,” said Jane Patton, co-author and CIEL’s Plastics & Petrochemicals Campaign Manager, based in southern Louisiana. “Our state’s elected leaders should be prioritizing safe and renewable energy technologies that provide long-term support and stability. Formosa Plastics will not provide any of those things, and this company and its project are wrong for Louisiana on all fronts.”  

The authors/groups call on policymakers and decision makers to take immediate action to: hold Formosa Plastics Group accountable for existing harms from its operations; take the company’s history of environmental, health, and safety impacts into account when reviewing applications for new permits; ending public subsidies for the plastics and petrochemical industries; and adopting a ban on new plastics and petrochemical facilities to protect communities and the planet from the rising impacts of petrochemical production. 

In response to the report frontline leaders, human rights experts, and civil society organizations offered the following:

“Community members forced to continue living in close proximity to plastic production facilities play a critical role in overseeing some aspects of compliance associated with the plastic facility operations. Community members observing and documenting spills, leaks, toxic chemical releases, and the discharge of residual plastic components into the environment and reporting the events to the environmental regulatory agencies and parish/county officials, frequently serve as the basis for documenting violations and the issuance of compliance orders by state and federal regulatory agencies.” — Wilma Subra, Technical Advisor to Louisiana Environmental Action Network

“Inclusive Louisiana knows that the Formosa Resolution triples our pollution ( air,water,soil) which adds to the climate crisis. Our local, state, congressional leaders and laymen is denying the climate crisis and doing everything to support the disrespect and disregard of Mother Earth and her people. They must stop Going along to GET alone. Inclusive Louisiana knows also that the state of Louisiana and Saint James Parish should be looking to start the needed infrastructure for renewable energy, a solar panel, a car or part factory for renewable energy and this could have happened yesterday. Indeed, the Mississippi River is the gateway to the world and it’s past time to use it for all our future.” — Gail LeBoeuf and Barbara Washington, Inclusive Louisiana. 

“The scale of Formosa Plastics’ abuse is staggering. Here in Louisiana, they are prepared to wipe a historic Black community off the face of the earth in pursuit of more profit and more plastic. This community that survived enslavement, lynching, the Jim Crow era and the theft of Black land has managed to survive and even thrive. After 150 years, it’s Formosa that is the threat, now poised to push them off of their ancestral land and build its facility on the likely burial grounds of enslaved people. I can think of no company whose actions are more heinous. Formosa leads the human rights hall of shame and should be driven out of Louisiana and every other place it seeks to operate.” — Anne Rolfes, Director, Louisiana Bucket Brigade

“Communities in the United States and around the world have been contending with the toxic and abusive practices of various Formosa Plastics companies for many years. This report makes a powerful case that these are not isolated incidents, but a disturbing pattern by a highly integrated, centrally-controlled global enterprise that systematically ignores environmental protection and the rights of communities.” — Marco Simons, General Counsel, EarthRights International

“We may never be able to fully measure the magnitude and scale of the harm done by Formosa around the world – both in terms of the damage it has wrought to the environment as well as basic human rights,” said Pam Spees, an international human rights attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. “This report is an important contribution to that accounting and is another wake-up call to officials in Louisiana, reeling from double disasters of historic storms that have wreaked havoc on the petrochemical infrastructure in the state, to walk away from a company one U.S. court has already found to be ‘serial offender’ before it’s too late.”


At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive. 


Since 1989, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) has worked to strengthen and use international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society.

Omar Hangs Up After Boebert Uses Call to Double Down on 'Outright Bigotry and Hate'

"Instead of apologizing for her Islamophobic comments and fabricated lies, Rep. Boebert refused to publicly acknowledge her hurtful and dangerous comments."

Jessica Corbett ·

Win for Alabama Workers as NLRB Orders New Union Vote After Amazon's Alleged Misconduct

A union leader said the decision confirmed that "Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace."

Jessica Corbett ·

'For the Sake of Peace,' Anti-War Groups Demand Biden Return to Nuclear Deal With Iran

"It's time to put differences aside and return to the Iran nuclear deal," said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·

'That's for Them to Decide': UK Secretary Rebuked for Claiming Vaccine Patent Waiver Won't Be 'Helpful' to Global Poor

One U.K. lawmaker asked when the government would "start putting the need to end this pandemic in front of the financial interests of Big Pharma?"

Andrea Germanos ·

Shell Slammed for Plan to Blast South African Coastline for Oil and Gas During Whale Season

"We cannot allow climate criminals, like Shell, to plunder in the name of greed," said Greenpeace.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo