- The judge said black residents missed the legal opportunity to file a lawsuit
- The lawsuit said the polluting plants were only being built in black communities
A lawsuit filed by Louisiana residents over racism in petrochemical plant approvals has been overturned
Nov 17 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by black residents in Louisiana who claim their local government practiced racial discrimination through a land use policy that concentrated polluting petrochemical plants in minority neighborhoods, finding the lawsuit was filed too late.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans on Thursday dismissed the lawsuit brought by community groups RISE St. James, Inclusive Louisiana and Mount Triumph Baptist Church, which sought to invalidate parts of the St. Louis Land Use Plan. James Parish, which was adopted in 2014. Ordinance, stopping the construction of new facilities in their communities.
The groups claimed that the zoning plan codified decades of discrimination in the placement of local industrial facilities. While dozens of “hazardous and extractive facilities” have been built or approved in black communities, they said no major polluting facilities have been approved by parishioners in white communities there in 46 years.
Barbier dismissed the case after finding that the groups missed the deadline to file a lawsuit over the 2014 law by several years. He also said some of the damage alleged by the groups could not be traced back to the parish.
The judge did not address the groups’ claims, saying the case’s flaws were procedural and that the court “cannot say that their claims lack a basis in fact or rely on an unfounded legal theory.”
William Quigley, an attorney for the groups and a professor emeritus at Loyola University New Orleans School of Law, said Friday that they respect the court’s decision and are evaluating all options moving forward.
“It’s not over,” he said.
A representative of the parish said that the judge reached the correct conclusions.
St. James Parish lies west of New Orleans along an industrial corridor that environmental and racial justice advocates call “Cancer Alley” that includes several major petrochemical facilities and refineries. Advocates say air toxins emanating from these facilities contribute to the increased cancer risk in the area.
The case is Omnibus Louisiana v. St. James Parish, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, No. 2:23-cv-00987.
For community groups: Pamela Spies, Baher Azmi, and Sadaf Dost of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and William Quigley of Loyola University New Orleans School of Law.
For St. James Parish: John King, Daniel Burrell and Carol Devilliers of Breazeal Sachs and Wilson
Louisiana residents allege systemic racism in petrochemical plant approvals
US Environmental Protection Agency creates Office of Environmental Justice
Start your morning with the most important legal news delivered directly to your inbox from Daily agenda.
Clark Mindock reports
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
(tags for translation)NRLPA:OENV