cancer alley, Louisiana, petrochemical
EcoJustice Radio Energy

REFINEMENT: Cracking the Plastic Production Boom – Plastic Plague Pt 2


EcoJustice RadioSharon Lavigne, 2021 Goldman Prize Awardee from RISE St. James and Diane Wilson from San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper have stepped up the fight for environmental justice against the plastic production boom on the Gulf Coast of the United States. Once extracted, how does oil and gas become the products, part of the plastic production boom poisoning environmental justice communities? Then we buy these products, the social and environmental justice issues are covered up by cool marketing campaigns. This is PART TWO of a special seven-part series, called, “The Plastic Plague: Connecting the Dots between Extraction, Inequity, and Pollution.” Check out Part 1Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7

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During part one of our Plastic Plague series, we investigated Extraction: How fracking and drilling for fossil fuels is the foundation from which the ills of plastic are born and how a boom in oil production is set to make the United States the world’s largest supplier of oil. Thus giving way to an increase in health and environmental issues, as well as movement toward massive plastic production in the near future. Cheap gas is driving the industry to create plastic, not based on consumer demand, but on inflated economic drivers that are forcing plastic consumption onto the general public. If you have not listened to our last episode, definitely check it out and be sure to hit Subscribe.

Sharon Lavigne speaks on how her community has suffered from nearby petrochemical facilities and how they are fighting back.

Once extracted, how does oil and gas become the resin that will eventually be the plastic we use in our daily lives? Then we buy these products, the social and environmental social justice issues that come with extraction and refinement, are covered up by cool marketing campaigns. Leaving the public none the wiser: out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

On this episode (part 2 of our 7-part Plastic Plague series), we will breakdown how fossil fuels become plastic and follow the train of economic interests and irresponsibility. We will hear from front-line activists dealing with plastic manufacturing and the impact to their communities’ quality of life.

Our guests include Diane Wilson, Executive Director of San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper; Sharon Lavigne, Founding Director of RISE St. James; and Jim Vallette, President of Material Research L3C. Hosted by Jessica Aldridge.


Diane Wilson, Executive Director, San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper
Social Media: @UnreasonableWoman
Diane is a fourth-generation shrimper, mother of five, author of three books, and an environmental, peace, and social justice advocate who during the last 30 years launched legislative campaigns, demonstrations, hunger strikes, sunk boats, and even climbed chemical towers in her fight to protect her Gulf Coast bay. She is executive director of San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper and recently won the largest ever citizen Clean Water suit against the plastic polluter Formosa Plastics, accruing $50 million in penalties against them and achieving zero discharge of plastics from their facility.

Sharon Lavigne, Founding Director of RISE St. James
Social Media:
Sharon is the Founding Director of RISE St. James, and founding executive member of the Coalition Against Death Alley. She is a dedicated activist committed to protecting her community of St. James, Louisiana. She was a teacher for 39 years and loves working with children. It is her conviction that God ignited this environmental justice fight with in her.

Jim Vallette, President, Material Research L3C
Social Media:
Jim is President and co-founder of Material Research L3C. In 2019, they investigated the delivery of tar sands by rail through Portland, Oregon, the life cycle impacts of 20 toxic chemicals (with Earthjustice), and completed a global inventory of the chlorine industry, the source of many of the world’s most problematic petrochemicals and plastics.

Sharon Lavinge, cancer alley, Louisiana, plastic productionHosted by Jessica Aldridge from SoCal 350 and Adventures in Waste
Engineer: Blake Lampkin
Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Producer: Georgia Tunioli
Show Created by Mark and JP Morris
Music: Javier Kadry
Episode 57

Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Updated 13 August 2021

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