Economic Data Shows No Need for More Coal Export Terminals

By Zach Sanchez/Public Citizen

The Army Corps of Engineers recently granted RAM Terminals LLC a key permit for construction of another coal export terminal in Plaquemines Parish at a time when demand for coal is dropping and building more terminals makes no financial sense.

“There is too much coal port space in the United States and not enough demand to justify more of it,” said Tom Sanzillo, author of a report, released this week by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), which uses export data to show that the United States already has more coal export capacity than it can use.

According to the report, only 66.5 percent of Gulf Coast’s coal export capacity was used in 2012, even though that was the peak year for U.S. coal exports. Owing to shrinking demand for U.S. coal on international markets, the nation’s coal exports have been on the decline ever since.

“So any plans for more capacity are ill-conceived, including the RAM Terminals proposal to build a terminal in Louisiana and the expansions that Kinder Morgan has already undertaken in Houston,” Sanzillo said. “Any serious analysis of coal markets indicates that the coal industry is a poor investment partner now and for the foreseeable future.”

The Army Corps also issued a key permit despite opposition to the proposed RAM coal export terminal from both local governments and residents, who are concerned that it will bring train traffic into small towns, increase coal dust pollution and undermine coastal restoration efforts.

“It really makes me wonder what kind of people are behind these plans,” said Linda Ramil, a resident of Plaquemines Parish, and among those who won a class action lawsuit against Kinder Morgan’s International Marine Terminal because it generated heavy coal dust that settles on and in the homes of nearby residents. “They obviously don’t care about the people who live here, the air we breathe or the wetlands we depend on. Do they even know what they are doing? It doesn’t seem so.”



Following Deadly DuPont Chemical Leak, Houston Coalition Call for “Reverse 911 Alerts”

By Zach Sanchez/Public Citizen

Following the chemical leak at DuPont’s La Porte facility that killed four people, our allies in the Healthy Port Communities Coalition (HPCC) called for heightened protection for employees at plants using deadly chemicals and for residents living around the facilities.On Saturday, four workers at the plant — about 30 miles from Houston and about 14 miles from Pasadena — died after a leak of about 100 pounds of methyl mercaptan. The plant had been cited numerous times for leaks ouers times for leaks.

In a press statement and interviews with the Houston Chronicle, and ABC, Telemundo and Univision television stations, the coalition repeated its call for federal government officials and the City of Pasadena to begin using a reverse 911 system and mobile text alerts to warn residents about chemical accidents and leaks at plants and refineries near their homes.  The system, a kind of Amber alert for chemical spills, would robocall residents in affected areas, providing information on evacuation and shelters, while mobile text alerts would send similar information to cell phone users.

Mari Cruz, who lives in Pasadena and is a member of Texas Organizing Project (TOP), said:  “Houston and Pasadena residents, particularly children, are at risk from accidents like the deadly DuPont leak. “We need to know that dangerous chemicals are being produced and used at plants near their homes. We need an emergency notification system when accidents happen. This weekend’s tragedy shows that it’s matter of life and death.”

Houston is home to over 400 chemical manufacturing facilities, and many of them are located next to primarily low-income residential areas. Residents in northern Pasadena, Deer Park, and the Houston neighborhoods of Manchester, Pleasantville and Denver Harbor live near or at the fence-line of chemical plants where leaks and spills are chronic.

“There are leaks and spills at Houston plants on a daily basis, and the people who live near them are chronically exposed to deadly chemicals,” said Hillary Corgey, a researcher for Public Citizen’s Texas office, which is also a member of HPCC. “People have health problems and full-blown illnesses because of the exposure. But this does not get investigated because it is a slow-moving tragedy. The EPA, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the companies themselves should be doing a much better job of protecting the public and the environment from deadly chemicals.”

Continue reading


New Orleans Conference Pollution Monitoring Conference Brings Together Community Leaders, Technology Innovators, Policy Analysts….

By Nancy Nusser/Public Citizen

As part of this weekend’s Community Based Science for Action Conference in New Orleans, community residents and environmental advocates from Louisiana Sierra Club and Gulf Restoration Network will lead a “Toxic Tour” of Plaquemines Parish, where communities are monitoring heavy coast dust pollution generated by nearby coal export terminals.

Community-based monitoring is a crucial piece in the fight for environmental justice. Empowering community residents as experts allows them to collect data when and where they have concerns about pollution. That helps eliminate gaps among regulatory agencies and identify toxic hot spots within the community. Neighbors can use that data to advocate for additional monitoring and/or enforcement and work to create healthy communities for themselves and their families.

The Nov. 15 tour – leaving from the Hyatt Regency (601 Loyola Avenue) at 12:30 pm and returning between 4 pm and 5 pm – will stop in Ironton, Myrtle Grove, and Woodpark, where participants will talk with community leaders about coal dust pollution, their suit against Kinder’s Morgan International Marine Terminal, and current opposition to the controversial RAM coal export terminal. The schedule is available at

The Nov. 15-17 conference, hosted by Global Community Monitor, Public Lab and Louisiana Bucket Brigade, will bring together grassroots community leaders, technology innovators, agency representatives, academic researchers and policy analysts.

Any reporters interested in going on the tour shoudl contact Nancy Nusser,, 410 934 9588.



Army Corps Gives Louisiana Coal Export Terminal a Key Permit

Nancy Nusser/Public Citizen

Unfortunately, the Army Corps of Engineers made a misguided decision to give the RAM coal export terminal, proposed for Plaquemines Parish outside of New Orleans, a key permit that it needs to be constructed. Over the summer, a groundswell of opposition to the terminal was generated by local government and residents, who are worried because the terminal would bring coal trains into small communities, increase coal dust pollution and undermine coastal restoration. But the Army Corps evidently decided to ignore all of that.

Residents request for a public hearing about the terminal was rejected by the Army Corps, so the coalition is helping to organize “people’s hearings,” which will be held at the beginning of 2015.

Here is coverage of the Army’s Corps most recently mistake regarding the RAM terminal.


Big Coal’s Shameless Bid for Survival

This story is a reprint from Salon.

Pumped up by GOP wins, Peabody Energy is teaming up with a PR firm to sell the world on “clean coal” for the poor


Just as it once helped Marlboro cigarettes push into Asia at the end of the last millennium, public relations giant Burson-Marsteller is helping Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal company, become the dominant supplier to the world’s most ravenous coal market, a role worth billions to Big Coal that could lock in decades of dangerously high carbon emissions.

The move into Asia is synchronized with a Burson-Peabody worldwide PR campaign and messaging blitz called “Advanced Energy for Life” (AEfL) that is designed to shift the focus from coal’s leading role in pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to what AEfL calls “energy poverty” — the alleged cure for which is cheap coal-generated electricity for the substantial areas of the developing world, and especially China, with little or no access to power.

Burson-Marsteller, which has a long history of creating front groups to rehabilitate the images of corporate wrongdoers, helped Philip Morris, maker of Marlboro, tackle the Asian market, where Burson fought anti-smoking regulations and developed crisis drills for Philip Morris personnel in Hong Kong on how to handle adverse scientific reports.

Continue reading