Major Victory Against RAM Coal Export Terminal

United Bulk Coal Export Terminal- Southwings_2.jpg

Louisiana community leaders and environmental organizations won a major victory against a proposed coal export terminal when a Plaquemines Parish district court revoked a Coastal Use Permit granted by Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. Parish residents have been fighting coal shipping terminals for years.

The lawsuit was brought by residents of the Ironton community and Sierra Club Delta Chapter, Gulf Restoration Network and Louisiana Environmental Action Network against the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for illegally granting a coastal use permit to RAM Terminals, LLC to build a coal export terminal in Plaquemines Parish. This victory spares residents from the air and water pollution, property-value loss and coal-train traffic that the coal shipping facility would bring.

In its Analysis the Court stated “The concept that the natural resources of the state constitute a public trust is embodied in Article IX of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974 which provides:

The natural resources of the state, including air and water, and the healthful scenic, historic and esthetic quality of the environment shall be protected, conserved, and replenished insofar as possible and consistent with the health, safety, and welfare of the people. The legislature shall enact laws to implement this policy.

The decision from the 25th Judicial District Court further states “While state agencies in Louisiana are always required to analyze alternative sites to reduce environmental impacts, the requirement is particularly important in this case, which is to be located on the same parcel of land as Louisiana’s first major wetlands restoration project, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion. “ The Court found that the DNR failed to consider alternative locations for the RAM coal terminal, and found that the DNR has breached its duty as public trustee under the Coastal Use Guidelines and the Louisiana Constitution…” The suit also pointed out that the DNR failed to take into consideration key evidence which was a study by state-agency consultants that showed the terminal would undermine the ability of the Myrtle Grove diversion to collect sediment needed to restore the coast.

"After long years of battling, this decision is a welcome gift for the people of south Louisiana whose air, water, and way of life are threatened by another dirty coal export terminal," said Devin Martin, an organizer with the Sierra Club. "Preserving the unique history, heritage, and natural resources of places like Ironton, Gretna, and our coastal marshes over the short-sighted interests of an out of state coal company is something that we can all agree on. We are glad to see that the district court agrees."

This court victory does not mean that the battle is over but it puts the burden on RAM to win on appeal. You can see the Court decision in the attached document.

UPDATE

On January 8, 2015 the Plaquemines Parish Council voted 8/0 with one abstaining to deny the construction permit for the RAM terminal. This is a complete turnaround from last year when only one person on the Council was willing to stand against this permit. This turnaround is due largely to the efforts of Sierra Club Beyond Coal Organizer Devin Gene Martin along with GRN and LEAN to organize the community to stand up against the air/water pollution and safety hazards that would come with another major coal terminal in close proximity to residential communities in the area. This is now a major obstacle to construction of the RAM terminal.

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