Mar 20, 2024 - News

Polluting plastic plants have received $1.6 billion in tax breaks since 2013

Plastic manufacturing plant activity since 2012
Data: Environmental Integrity Project; Map: Axios Visuals

Despite air pollution violations, Texas plastic manufacturing companies have received more than $1.6 billion in tax breaks since 2013, per a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project.

The nonprofit's report identified 50 factories that have been built or expanded in the last 12 years that manufacture the main ingredients in plastic products. Texas is home to 33 of those plastic plants, largely in the Houston area in Harris, Brazoria and Chambers counties.

  • These facilities are largely in communities of color, and many of the plants have been cited for releasing known carcinogens, per the report.

Between the lines: Plants from companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron Phillips and LyondellBasell got property tax breaks from the state's former Chapter 313 program for energy and manufacturing companies.

What they found: 42 of the 50 plants violated their air pollution control permits over the last three years.

  • The 50 plastics plants reported releasing an estimated 63 million tons of greenhouse gases in 2021 and 471,744 pounds of benzene, a carcinogen, per the report.

State of play: The plastics industry continues to expand, with many proposed new plants and expansion projects along the Gulf Coast, per the report.

  • "The rapidly expanding plastics industry imposes serious risks to human health and the environment, despite its pledges to be climate-friendly and worthy of public support and subsidies," the report says.

What they're saying: "The plastics industry deserves penalties and more oversight — not more government handouts — for the environmental harm it is causing," Alexandra Shaykevich, one of the report's authors, said in a statement.

What we're watching: Whether state and federal regulators will deny permits or if state and local entities will reject or revoke subsidies, which are some of the recommendations in the report.

  • "As a Houstonian, I can tell you that the recommendations in this report can't come soon enough. We need to close loopholes for polluters and stop rewarding those that harm air quality and health," said Brandy Deason, climate justice coordinator for Air Alliance Houston.
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