New Orleans, LA – Five organizations in the Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition sent a letter today to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) urging the Corps to solicit public input through a public hearing on two proposed Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana coal export terminals.
The letter, addressed to Col. Richard Hansen, called on the Corps to more fully examine the environmental and community impacts of two proposed coal terminals – the RAM terminal in Myrtle Grove and the MG Midstreaming facility, a floating coal terminal that would be located directly adjacent to the RAM terminal. This letter was sent as follow-up to a meeting community leaders and organizational representatives had with the Corps on February 13th, during which the Corps indicated that they have no public hearings planned on the RAM coal export terminal or the MG Midstreaming project.
“From coal dust threatening the health of nearby residents to the impacts on efforts to restore Louisiana’s coast, these proposed coal export facilities would have wide-ranging effects on our communities and environment,” said Grace Morris, Coal Campaign Organizer with Gulf Restoration Network. “The public deserves to be heard. The Corps needs to live up to their responsibility and hold a public hearing on these destructive projects.”
During the initial public comment period on the RAM terminal, the Corps held no public hearing, and since then significant new information has come to light regarding the project and its impacts. This information includes a study commissioned by the state of Louisiana that details potential impacts on coastal restoration efforts from the RAM terminal, and a Memorandum of Agreement between RAM Terminals LLC and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority. At the recent meeting, Corp officials said they had never seen or analyzed either of these documents.
“It was shocking to hear that they Corps had never seen the study Louisiana commissioned that outlines how the proposed RAM terminal could harm coastal restoration efforts,” stated Devin Martin, Conservation Coordinator with the Sierra Club Delta Chapter. “This study directly relates to the impacts of these proposed coal projects, and the Corps needs to take into account this new information before issuing any permits.”
Another related concern raised in the letter is the lack of coordination between the regulatory staff at the Corps, and the staff tasked with restoration.
“The New Orleans District of the Army Corps cannot keep looking at regulatory and restoration as two separate things,” stated Matt Rota, Senior Policy Director with Gulf Restoration Network. “The Corps is hindering restoration efforts and doing a disservice to coastal communities by ignoring the relationship between development projects like these coal facilities and restoration efforts.”
Furthermore, the Corps has not analyzed or collected public comments on the combined environmental and public health impacts of the RAM Terminal and the proposed MG Midstreaming operation. The Corps has thus far failed to look at the cumulative impacts that these two projects would have, and is instead considering them as separate actions. Under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Corps is required to consider the impacts of connected actions together.
“Maintaining that these two projects are separate actions is pure fantasy” stated Mr. Martin. “The agent applying for the MG Midstreaming permit is the business development director of RAM terminals, and the facilities are right next to each other. As a public agency charged with protecting the public interest, it’s the Corps duty to examine the true impacts that these dirty coal terminals would have on our coast, communities, and environment.”
The Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition (CleanGulfCommerceCoalition.org) is a multi-state coalition of individuals and groups working to stop the construction of new terminals, prevent the expansion of coal exports in the Gulf, and address ongoing pollution at existing terminals. The Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition includes Air Alliance Houston, Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), Public Citizen Texas, Sierra Club, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS), and Texas Organizing Project (TOP).