We’re building an enormous plastics problem.

You may remember that in 2018 some prominent scientists gave us a 12-year deadline to fix climate change. I’m more certain of this bit of environmental punditry than I’ve been about anything in my life: In the year 2030, American policymakers will have finally caught up to the notion that climate change is every bit the existential crisis that many of us already know it to be.

But I fear a decade on we’ll still be nowhere close to caught up to the notion that we’re building an enormous plastics crisis.

Sharp reporters, including our own Kristina Marusic, are on to the oil and gas industry’s efforts to prolong its own life. Massive projects aiming to turn fracked gas into plastics are on the books for Western Pennsylvania and Louisiana’s “Cancer Alley” Chemical Corridor.

Shell Chemical’s $6 billion plastic pellets plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, will guarantee jobs for decades in the hard-hit region. It will also guarantee a whopping increase in carbon emissions and a lifeline for the oil and gas industry, while providing a primary source of plastic.

In St. James Parish, Louisiana, local activists continue a pitched battle against a $9.4 billion Formosa Plastics plant along the Mississippi. Both promise to extend the lives of oil, gas, and plastic, despite compelling environmental arguments that all three should be fading out.

Published with permission from Environmental Health News.