Scores of concerned citizens packed the Belle Chasse Auditorium this past Thursday for a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) public hearing on the proposed RAM coal export terminal.
As you may be aware, the RAM facility would be located near Wood Park, Myrtle Grove, and historic Ironton in Plaquemines Parish. It’d be the first regional terminal connected to rail, thereby introducing mile-long uncovered coal trains to the West Bank. RAM would sit adjacent to the site of the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion as well, a major coastal restoration project from the state’s Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast.
The standing-room-only crowd expressed overwhelming opposition to RAM’s application for a Coastal Use Permit. The prospect of dirty trains rumbling through communities raised countless public-health and quality-of-life concerns, especially those related to traffic, noise, and decreased property values.
Notably, individuals’ concerns also branched beyond the ‘not-in-my-backyard’ trope. Many attendees referenced the recurring losses of storm-buffering wetlands and the need to focus on rebuilding efforts. Gayle Bertucci, who lives beside the potential train route in Gretna, declared coastal restoration as “necessary for the survival of us all.”
GRN’s own Scott Eustis detailed Louisiana’s choice between coast and coal, referencing the fact that RAM’s mere existence would reduce river-flow of wetland-forming sediment by at least 158,000,000 pounds per decade. This projected flow impediment is undeniably significant, yet the accompanying likelihood of coal-related discharges might even be worse.
Although DNR made no judgement regarding RAM’s permit status on Thursday, the agency is trusted with weighing all voices in its decision-making process. Both the Plaquemines and Jefferson Parish Councils stand firmly against this possible development. The State can benefit from aligning itself with the vocal, local leadership.
For those who were unable to attend in Belle Chasse, DNR will continue bolstering the public record until this upcoming Monday, the 28th. Comments should be emailed to Nicole Dandurand (Nicole.Dandurand@LA.gov). Please be sure to include “RAM Terminals, LLC,” “P20120190,” and your contact information in all correspondence.