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New York, NY – Today, UN Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions Michael R. Bloomberg launched Beyond Petrochemicals: People Over Pollution, a new campaign that aims to halt the rapid expansion of petrochemical and plastic pollution in the United States. Drawing on the success of Beyond Coal, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Bloomberg’s Beyond Carbon campaign, Beyond Petrochemicals will turbocharge existing efforts led by frontline communities to block the expansion of more than 120 proposed petrochemical projects concentrated in three target geographies – Louisiana, Texas, and the Ohio River Valley. Beyond Petrochemicals will also work to establish stricter rules for existing petrochemical plants to safeguard the health of American communities.
“Petrochemical plants poison our air and water – killing Americans and harming the health of entire communities. And with many heavily-polluting new projects planned around the U.S., we’re at a critical moment for stopping them,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “Communities around the country are standing up to confront the petrochemical industry and defend their right to clean air and water. This campaign will help ensure more local victories, support laws that protect communities from harm, and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling the climate crisis.”
Bloomberg’s landmark announcement comes on the heels of two powerful wins in the growing fight to stop the rise of toxic pollution from the petrochemical industry: Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court’s stunning rejection of Formosa’s enormous “Sunshine” plastic project and the cancellation of the South Louisiana Methanol project. These projects would have been significant emitters of carbon and toxic pollution, and both would have been located near Black communities in St. James Parish, Louisiana, in the heart of “Cancer Alley.”
Beyond Petrochemicals will scale the work being done by frontline groups and aligned organizations who are leading the fight to end petrochemical pollution in these communities, including Beyond Plastics, the Bullard Center at Texas Southern University, Defend Our Health, Earthjustice, Earthworks, Hip Hop Caucus, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and Rise St. James among others, and will continue to work with additional organizations and leaders to accelerate efforts to halt petrochemical expansion in Louisiana, Texas, and the Ohio River Valley. Resources Legacy Fund will help support Beyond Petrochemical’s partners to achieve the campaign’s goals.
“As a native Louisianan, I understand the horrors of Cancer Alley and the destruction fossil fuel and toxic facilities have caused. I have seen the cost to communities and to our climate of these polluting facilities,” said Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., Beyond Petrochemicals Campaign Chair and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus. “With Bloomberg’s investment, we can halt the cooking of the planet and poisoning of our communities. As he did with coal, Mike Bloomberg is showing that a world without pollution is possible.”
As the world transitions to clean and renewable energy, demand for oil is projected to shift from trucks, aviation and shipping to petrochemicals. According to the industry’s own estimates, by 2050, petrochemical applications will account for nearly half of the growth in oil demand, and will exceed carbon emissions of coal-fired power by 2030.
By building on the powerful foundation established by frontline community organizers and environmental justice leaders, the Beyond Petrochemicals campaign will rest on four key pillars:
- Community Leadership: Resource and empower community advocates in the target regions of Louisiana, Texas and the Ohio River Valley to accelerate grassroots power to challenge industrial buildout and enforce environmental and health protections in their own backyards.
- Data and Research: Fund necessary studies and deliver accurate data and expert analysis to government and financial decision makers to help advance swift, decisive actions.
- Legislation and Litigation: Use the power of the law to protect public health and the climate, including engaging a diverse array of experts and approaches, educating decision-makers about the harms of petrochemicals pollution, and advancing environmental policies.
- Stakeholder Engagement: Engage with the general public and private sector to improve enforcement of regulations and reduce demand for plastic and petrochemical products.