New Orleans, LA – Disregarding repeated requests from local public officials and residents in Plaquemines and Jefferson parishes, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) today announced that it will not hold any public hearings about the proposed RAM coal export facility. The decision comes just days after Jefferson Parish passed a formal resolution calling for a public hearing and full environmental and economic study of RAM’s potential impacts.
“Time after the time, the Army Corps has sided with the special interests of a private company and turned a blind eye to our legitimate concerns about how the RAM coal export terminal and uncovered coal trains would impact our region’s quality of life and coastal restoration plans,” said Laurie Ledet, a resident of Gretna. “By refusing to even hold a simple public hearing on RAM, the Corps is showing complete disdain for the residents and government officials who are being told to let this dirty project into their communities without asking questions.”
The Army Corps' move occurs as community opposition continues to build. In recent months, hundreds of yard signs have popped up across West Bank communities opposing uncovered coal trains coming through neighborhoods, and three local governments (Westwego, Gretna, andJefferson Parish) have passed resolutions questioning the impacts of the RAM coal export terminal and associated coal trains. The most recent resolution, passed by Jefferson Parish on September 17, highlighted RAM’s potential harm to multimillion-dollar investments in coastal restoration plans.
“Scientists with the state of Louisiana have raised serious concerns about how the RAM coal export terminal would impact one of the hallmark projects in Louisiana’s coastal restoration plans. We’ve already documented instances where restoration projects have been polluted by coal from existing export terminals,” said Grace Morris, Senior Organizer with Gulf Restoration Network. “The Corps needs to respect the concerns of local governments and residents by holding a public hearing and studying this new information about RAM’s impacts.”
The RAM coal export terminal was first proposed in 2012, and the Army Corps opened the project for public comment briefly in the spring of 2012. Since then significant new information has come to light regarding the project, including a study by the Water Institute of the Gulf questioning how RAM could impact the Mid-Barataria Sediment diversion, a major component of Louisiana's Coastal Master Plan. The facility also expanded its proposed footprint in December of 2013.
“The Army Corps wants people to quiet down and let this out-of-state coal company proceed with its dust-spewing trains and polluting coal export terminal. But their refusal to hold a public hearing doesn’t change the fact that Louisianans have a right to voice their serious concerns about this project,” stated Devin Martin, Associate Organizing Representative with the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Louisianans deserve better and will make our voices heard. We’re working with leaders throughout the West Bank to hold our own hearing on RAM, and we hope that representatives from the Army Corps and other agencies will show up and listen to citizens.”
The Clean Gulf Commerce Coalition includes Air Alliance Houston, Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and Southwings.