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Federal Court Stops Biden’s Plan to Close Down Major Petrochemical Plant in Louisiana

A U.S. district court has intervened in the Biden administration’s push to shut down a major petrochemical plant in Louisiana, granting a request to indefinitely suspend a trial that was set to address environmental concerns surrounding the facility.

Trial Delay Granted

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Judge Carl Barbier of the U.S. District of Eastern Louisiana granted the federal government’s request to pause the trial concerning the Louisiana petrochemical plant, canceling oral arguments scheduled for the upcoming week and delaying the trial slated for mid-March.

Defendant’s Response

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Denka Performance Elastomer (DPE), the defendant in the case, criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for seeking the trial delay, accusing the agency of misusing resources and pursuing the case for political gain.

DPE’s Statement

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DPE’s counsel, Jason Hutt, denounced the EPA’s lawsuit as politically motivated and asserted that the company has made significant investments to reduce emissions at its LaPlace facility, which produces neoprene, a synthetic rubber.

Regulatory Proposal

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Hutt indicated that the federal government may withdraw the lawsuit in light of a forthcoming regulatory proposal that would require additional testing of chemical emissions, including chloroprene, the focus of the EPA’s case against DPE.

EPA’s Initial Action

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The EPA filed a complaint against DPE in 2023, alleging that the plant’s emissions posed a cancer risk to residents in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, prompting the administration to take action under its environmental justice agenda.

Legal Maneuvering

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Following the EPA’s complaint, the Justice Department filed a motion for preliminary injunction, seeking to enforce a shutdown of DPE’s facility if significant emissions reductions were not implemented immediately.

DPE’s Defense

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DPE argued against the federal government’s actions, contending that they would have severe economic consequences and asserting that the administration’s efforts were politically motivated and lacked scientific basis.

Compliance and Emissions Reduction

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The company emphasized its compliance with environmental permits and highlighted substantial reductions in chloroprene emissions at its LaPlace facility.

Cancer Data

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DPE cited data from the Louisiana Tumor Registry indicating low cancer rates in St. John the Baptist Parish, where its neoprene facility is situated.

Revelations and Congressional Probe

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Last year, DPE revealed evidence suggesting that EPA officials may have manufactured evidence related to the case, prompting a probe by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

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Credit: Depositphotos – 12.07.2018. BRUSSELS, BELGIUM. Press conference of Donald Trump, President of United States of America, during NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) SUMMIT 2018. ” — Photo by gints.ivuskans