US Army Corps of Engineers Deputy Principal Under Secretary for Civil Engineering meets Rise St. James – The Observer
Wednesday October 26 was a historic and much loved day for the community of St. James, Louisiana, and for all the parishes of the Louisiana River. Mr. Jaime A. Pinkham, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, held a listening session with members of Rise St. James in the historic community of Freetown. While Mr. Pinkham was in southern Louisiana primarily to speak with senior officials of the US Army Corps of Engineers, he devoted over an hour to the camaraderie and frank and frank discussions with the direction to Rise St. James, as well as the Louisiana Bucket. Brigade.
This is the first time that a government official has taken the time to see our humanity. Mr. Pinkham will be forever remembered for taking that first step. We hope this visit will inspire others to do the same. So far we have been rejected and dismissed by local management. They are on the wrong side of history, not us.
During the listening session, the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) reaffirmed that the impact of any industrial project on the quality of human life is a priority. Despite all the loss and devastation from Hurricane Ida, the members of Rise St. James are attached to their homes, families and cultural heritage. They called for protection from hazardous industries and support for public health and local government infrastructure.
Contrary to popular belief, the members of Rise St. James look forward to the region’s economic development, but are steadfast in their commitment to climate adaptation. Our communities are at the forefront of opportunities that involve modern infrastructure resilient to climate change, bridging the gap in climate education, funding public transport and reconnecting neighborhoods, solar power in public spaces and emergency, ecotourism and more.
The huge petrochemical complex proposed by Formosa would include 14 chemical manufacturing plants and numerous support facilities, just one mile from an elementary school and a small community of descendants. The project would worsen climate change and the ocean plastic pollution crisis.
The historic visit precedes the future engagement leading to the ordering by USACE of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIA) related to the Formosa Group chemical plant (Formosa) in the region.
We are able to speak for ourselves – we have more facts, feelings, research, and love for the community than anyone else. It is time for our communities to heal. Many thanks to Mr. Pinkham and Colonel Murphy for listening to the perspective of top-down communities and supporting environmental justice. As always, we invite everyone to walk with us, claim our community and embrace a two-way relationship with the rest of the living world.
Sharon Lavigne is President of Rise St. James and recipient of the 2021 Goldman Award. Rise St. James is a project financially sponsored by Earth Island.