The Jan. 26 announcement by state and company officials of a $1.3 billion Shintech plastics expansion in Plaquemine came just eight weeks after the chemical giant agreed to pay $356,500 in state and federal fines for violations dating back a dozen years, incidents that included the release of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals and the injury of several workers.

Shintech received permission after paying both Louisiana and the Federal government the fines the company has had for over 10 years. The state received $356,500 and the Federal government $168,500 for a total of $525,000 or less than 1% of the cost of the expansion. In receiving permission, Shintech will be able to pollute to these limits.

Under initial permits issued by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality just a week before the expansion announcement, Shintech’s combined manufacturing complex will be allowed to emit 80 additional tons a year of ozone-creating chemicals, 70 additional tons a year of particle emissions and about 110,000 tons a year more of carbon-equivalent emissions, which are linked to global warming.

There may be some blockage of these pollution limits as:

In its application, Shintech determined that its increased releases of nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) would violate state standards. As a result, it plans to continue to participate in an “emissions trading” program that allows it to purchase credits from other companies in the region that have cut emissions. Under a 2018 Trump administration rule change, the company is being allowed to substitute nitrogen oxide credits for VOC credits, since both are precursor chemicals of ozone. By the time the new facility is open, there’s a chance its emissions credit strategy will have to be changed, thanks to a Friday ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. That court found that no trading of one chemical for another is allowed, though it is likely to be appealed by industry groups.

The loss to the communities affected will be severe but these aspects do not seem to be a concern by those approving the action.

Did Shintech Pay off the Louisiana for the plant expansion?