By Nancy Nusser/Public Citizen
Coalition organizers in Louisiana have been instrumental in making coal trains — and by extension the RAM coal export terminal that the trains would service — a major, controversial issue for communities in Jefferson Parish, just outside of New Orleans.
The RAM Terminals’ coal export facility, a focal point of the coalition’s campaign, is proposed for a site in Plaquemines Parish, right next to Jefferson. This summer, the terminal has become a point of conflict for Jefferson Parish communities, notably Gretna and Westwego, because it would require coal trains to run through or by their towns.
Yesterday, the Jefferson Parish Council endorsed a study of whether the trains could be re-routed around the town of Gretna and instead cut through the community of Harvey.
CGCC staffers and supporters shot back that rerouting is no solution, because it doesn’t address the real issue — mile-long coal trains, which generate hundreds of pounds of coal dust and tie up traffic — running through any community to service the proposed RAM terminal.
Grace Morris, senior organizer for Gulf Restoration Network, said: “People are getting so confused. They’re presenting re-routing as a solution to the new coal terminal facility. And it has nothing to do with it.”
Resident Laure Ledet, a parish resident and CGCC ally, called rerouting an “empty promise to appease the legitimate concerns of our citizens.” She said the proposed study “does nothing to address our immediate concern of RAM Terminals shipping coal by train.”