Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish Expected to Vote Against RAM Coal Export Terminal

By Nancy Nusser/Public Citizen

Louisiana residents who’ve been fighting the RAM coal export terminal — and our own organizers — earned another huge win last week when the City Council of Gretna passed a resolution calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to do an environmental impact study on the terminal and hold a public hearing. The move was prompted by local residents, who crowded an Aug. 13 City Council meeting to voice their opposition to the terminal and coal trains.

More than 100 Gretna residents turned out for the Aug. 13 City Council meeting to protest the coal trains that would service the RAM coal export terminal.

More than 100 Gretna residents turned out for the Aug. 13 City Council meeting to protest the coal trains that would service the RAM coal export terminal.

This week, a similar resolution is expected to be taken up by the council for all of Jefferson Parish, an even bigger win, since Jefferson is the second-largest parish in the entire state of Louisiana.

And here’s the bigger picture. If the Army Corps does the study and holds a hearing, that could slow the permitting process for construction of the RAM terminal.Thanks to the people of Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes, the campaign to stop the terminal is gaining momentum!


Fight AgainFight Against RAM Coal Terminal, Trains Gets Major Boost with Town Resolution

Sept. 11, 2014

Residents’ Fight Against RAM Coal Terminal, Trains Gets Major Boost with Gretna Resolution

GRETNA, LA – Community members fighting the proposed RAM Terminals coal export facility earned a major victory when Gretna’s City Council unanimously called for an environmental impact review and public hearing on the project slated for a site in nearby Plaquemines Parish. Public opposition to the terminal has mushroomed in recent weeks. More than 100 local residents – many carrying “No Coal Train” signs – turned out for the Aug. 13 Gretna City Council meeting. Residents called on the City Council to take a stand against both coal trains and the RAM terminal.

“This is great news for all of us who are worried about coal export terminals and coal trains,” said Gayle Bertucci, a retired schoolteacher who lives less than 40 feet from tracks that would be used by mile-long coal trains. “The Army Corps needs to complete a comprehensive environmental impact study and hold public hearings so people and officials can see the damage that the RAM coal export terminal would do to our wetlands, water and air.”

During its Sept. 10 meeting, the Gretna City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a “comprehensive environmental study on the impacts of the proposed RAM terminal project,” planned for a site near Ironton and Myrtle Grove in Plaquemines Parish. The City Council also called for a public hearing to “educate the public and city officials as to the economic and environmental impacts” of the proposed terminal.

“We have come together to stand up to protect our health, our property and our quality of life – and this shows it’s working,” said Laurie Ledet, a member of the Gretna Historical Society and a champion of the town’s historic district.

Holding a public hearing and conducting a full Environmental Impact Statement could delay the 404 permit process for the proposed RAM Terminal. The terminal cannot be constructed without that go-ahead, and now a growing movement – city councils, West Bank residents, and local conservation groups – is calling on the Army Corps to conduct a full and complete analysis of all its impacts before making a decision on the permit.

Laurie Ledet, a staunch opponent of the RAM terminal and its coal trains, turned out for the Aug. 13 Gretna City Council meeting.

“I’m so proud of the City of Gretna,”  Ledet  said.  “It was wonderful to watch the Gretna City Council and Mayor Constant take a courageous stand to protect our historic community from RAM terminal’s coal trains and the threat that the terminal presents to coastal restoration.”

Gretna’s resolution follows action by Westwego in June. Led by Mayor John Shaddinger and Councilman Glenn Green, Westwego passed a resolution that also called on the Army Corps to conduct an environmental review and hold a public hearing on the RAM Terminal.

Residents are now calling on the Jefferson Parish Council to build on town leadership to pass its own resolution with the same demands. The RAM Terminal and coal trains are expected to come up at the council’s meeting next week.

Plaquemines Parish is already home to two coal export terminals. Residents living nearby suffer with heavy coal dust pollution, which causes respiratory ailments and collects on their homes and property. Aerial photos and satellite images demonstrate pollution of the Mississippi River from the terminals. A recent report in suggests that coal from the terminals is already polluting sediment used in major coastal restoration projects.

Local residents who have been fighting coal export terminals recently joined with the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition, an alliance of environmental groups working to turn back plans to increase coal exports throughout the Gulf Coast, .

The Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition includes Air Alliance Houston, Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and SouthWings.  

Contact: Nancy Nusser, nnusser@citizen,org; 410 934 9588



China Moving Toward Cutting Carbon Emissions

By Nancy Nusser/Public Citizen

Grist reported today that China announced over the weekend that the country is moving forward with a plan to cut carbon emissions through a nationwide cap-and-trade strategy. The very brief story, explained through a handful of graphs, says, essentially, that China is planning to open the “world’s  biggest carbon market” as early as 2016. Through  cap-and-trade, China intends to cut its “carbon intensity” 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2050. The story also reports that China already has seven carbon trading pilot programs in various parts of the country.




Times-Picayune Reports Coal Pollution of Restored Marshland

By Nancy Nusser/Public Citizen

Mark Schleifstein, a well-known environmental reporter from the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, today published an important article  about coal getting into the sediment that is being used to restore the Louisiana coast. The story addresses what CGCC has been saying for months — that the coal export terminals in Plaquemines Parish undermine Louisiana’s vital coastal restoration efforts and that the situation will only get worse if the RAM coal export termiDupont Hermitage restoration mapnal,  the focal point of our campaign, is built.

Schleifstein reports that chunks of “coal and petroleum coke – some as large as fists – have been found dotting mile-long stretches of elevated marsh platform created by coastal restoration programs that are pumping sediment inland from the Mississippi River into open water near Lake Hermitage and Bayou Dupont on the west bank of Plaquemines Parish.

He reported that he and a Times-Picayune photographer saw coal and coke debris at both restoration sites, “including lumps of coal mixed with sediment flowing from the end of a pipeline at the Lake Hermitage restoration project on Aug. 28.”

He reported that Gulf Restoration Network also “found coal and coke debris at the Lake Hermitage site during their own tour of the restoration project. The environmental group filed a complaint about the materials, which it believes are an environmental threat, with the Coast Guard’s National Response Center.”

The story said: “In his complaint, the Gulf Restoration Network’s Scott Eustis said that in roughly half of a 5-acre area at the Lake Hermitage, the ground was ‘coated in dice-sized pieces of coal and petroleum coke, at about 25% of the visible surface.’ The complaint also said that, “About every meter or so, there was a golf ball-sized piece or a baseball-sized piece. Softball-sized chunks were found.”.





Texans Call on Federal, State Leaders to Help Save Farmland

By Nancy Nusser

The Brazos River Bottom Alliance (BRBA) — a grass roots organization of about  50 tenant farmers, landowners, small agricultural businesses, and residents of the town of Mumford — called on federal and state leaders for help in saving a large swath of farmland in Texas’s richest farming region. (Union Pacific plans to build a 72-track rail yard, which would accommodate coal and oil trains handling increased exports through the Gulf Coast, right in the middle of the farming region.)

The group last week sent a letter to 21 state and federal elected officials, including U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Texas Rep. Craig Estes, and officials whose job is to protect Texas farmland – Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples, the Texas Farm Bureau, and the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program.

BRBA's logo, showing the cotton that flourishes in the Brazos River region.  Farms there also produce vegetables.

BRBA’s logo, showing the cotton that flourishes in the Brazos River region. Farms there also produce vegetables.

The story has gotten local and state attention — an above-the-fold page one story in a local newspaper,  The Bryan College Station Eagle and a two-part story on Austin’s NPR station, KUT.

Mumford is a close-knit community near Bryan College Station that traces its heritage to early 20th century settlement of the area. The largely Sicilian-American community prospered from unusually rich flood plains created by overflow from the Brazos River. The rail yard, where trains would be switched to move out onto 72 tracks, would be built on 1,200 to 1,800 acres of rich Mumford farmland that produces vegetables, corn, wheat, sorghum, soy and cotton.

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