Courtesy Sharon Lavigne

Sharon Lavigne leads the community activism group Rise St. James, based in Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” near the U.S. Gulf coast. In 2022, her group successfully campaigned to halt the construction of a plastics manufacturing complex planned by Formosa Plastics. That September, a state judge revoked air permits for the project, which, if built, would be a major source of pollution near predominantly Black neighborhoods. In its decision, the court ruled that the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality “must take special care to consider the impact of climate-driven disasters fueled by greenhouse gasses on environmental justice communities and their ability to recover,” setting a new precedent for business in the state.

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