The Sierra Club on May 4 issued a statement celebrating the fact that the head of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on April 26 decided to reconsider a coastal use permit for the RAM Terminals LLC coal export facility on the Mississippi River.
The club said the proposed terminal has been controversial not just among residents. In March, DNR re-issued RAM Terminals a coastal use permit after a state judge from the 25th Judicial District Court revoked RAM Terminals’ previously granted coastal use permit in late 2014. The court, having determined that DNR illegally issued the permit to RAM terminals, ordered the company to re-submit the permit application with more extensive analysis.
The Plaquemines Parish Council denied RAM a building permit in 2015, and Jefferson Parish, the City of Gretna and the City of Westwego passed resolutions citing concerns with harmful air and water pollution, the destruction it would cause to coastal wetlands and restoration projects and calling for a comprehensive environmental analysis of the proposed coal export terminal.
“I thank Secretary [Thomas] Harris for standing with local leadership in Plaquemines Parish,” said Audrey T. Salvant, Plaquemines Parish Councilwoman. “The wellbeing and safety of Ironton, Wood Park, Myrtle Grove and neighborhoods throughout Plaquemines Parish and coastal protection must come before the interests of an out-of-state coal export facility.”
The club said the proposal relies on a “beleaguered and ever-diminishing international coal market” for its economic justification.
The terminal would be the first facility in the area directly connected to rail. The facility’s construction and operation would result in mile-long, uncovered coal trains running through surrounding neighborhoods, and turning residential areas into an industrial corridor, the club said.
Harris said that issues to be addressed during reconsideration of the permit include: whether rail delivery of coal is needed instead of the normal method of delivery for Lower Mississippi terminals, which is barges moving down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers; and more information on the rejected alternative sites for this terminal.