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.”