The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jessica Herrera, , (520) 260-1725

Local Residents Testify to Halt Proposed Export Terminal in Plaquemines Parish

Coastal communities urge Louisiana Department of Natural Resources to reject RAM Terminal’s coastal use permit request


Parish leadership, experts and residents gathered Thursday night at the Belle Chasse Auditorium for a Louisiana Department of Natural Resources public hearing on the proposed RAM coal export terminal. A state judge from the 25th District Court revoked RAM Terminals, LLC's previously granted coastal use permit in late 2014, determining it had been illegally issued and required the company to re-submit the permit application with more extensive analysis. Yesterday's hearing was in response to resolutions from Jefferson and Gretna as well as public concern over the company's proposal. At the hearing, more than one hundred and fifty community members urged the department to deny the company a permit because of the harmful air and water pollution it would release into surrounding communities, the destruction it would cause to coastal wetlands and restoration projects as well as the dangerous coal train traffic it would usher into nearby residential neighborhoods.

"The communities of Ironton, Wood Park, and Gretna and surrounding neighborhoods are here to call on the Department of Natural Resources to reject this risky coal export plan," said Benedict Rousselle, Plaquemines Parish Council Chairman. "The department should follow local leadership of Plaquemines and Jefferson Parishes and halt this proposal from an out-of-state company."

The proposed plan would harm an important coastal restoration project in the region, the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, and fails to recognize nearby community of Ironton that would be disproportionately at risk from the facility's pollution. The proposal also relies on a beleaguered and ever-diminishing international coal market for economic justification.

"The coast is our lifeblood. Our economy and livelihoods depend on coastal restoration and RAM could undermine important restoration work being done to protect our communities," said Ricky Templet, Jefferson Parish Councilman. "It's time for our state to stand behind its commitment to coastal restoration and reject this project once and for all."

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, turning residential areas into an industrial corridor. At the hearing residents of nearby West Bank communities expressed concerns over RAM's proposed rail line -- which would usher in coal dust pollution and pose a risk to nearby homes and families.

"We don't want our homes shaken by train traffic and covered in coal dust blowing off the trains," said Laurie Ledet, a resident of Gretna. "The risks are simply too high for our communities, with essential emergency response facilities potentially cut off by the rail lines. It has been long enough. It's time for the Department of Natural Resources to take our concerns seriously."

Public comments from the hearing will be used to help the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources come to a final decision on the company's proposal, which was resubmitted in June.

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