Louisiana skirts EPA on chemical plant pollution

By Sean Reilly | 07/02/2024 01:42 PM EDT

Gov. Jeff Landry (R) said Denka Performance Elastomer has another two years to meet emission limits for chloroprene, which is deemed a likely carcinogen.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) speaks during the start of the special session.

Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry (R) speaking during the start of the special session in the House Chamber on Jan. 15 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Michael Johnson/The Advocate via AP, Pool

Republican Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry is again siding with the state’s chemical industry in a long-running standoff over a plant that EPA deems an imminent health threat to nearby residents in a predominantly Black parish.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Landry’s administration challenged recently strengthened EPA air toxics regulations for some chemical manufacturers that set an unusually tight 90-day compliance window for Denka Performance Elastomer.

At a news conference held at Denka’s plant in St. John the Baptist Parish, Landry joined his top environmental appointee in announcing that the state was instead giving the company another two years to meet the emission limits for chloroprene, which EPA deems a likely carcinogen.


It is “impossible to retrofit Denka and implement those reductions [in] emissions in 90 days,” Aurelia Giacometto, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, said at the event, which was livestreamed on YouTube. The plant, which employs about 250 people, is the United States’ only maker of neoprene, a synthetic rubber used in making gasoline hoses and other products.