Ironton Celebrates Resilience (reposted from Delta Sierran)

By Devin Martin (re-posted from the Delta Sierran) On May 5, in the small town of Ironton, Plaquemines Parish, the St. Paul’s Missionary Baptist church held a celebratory service. Normally, this wouldn’t be news, at least not the kind of news that the Delta Sierran covers. But this was a special service the first to be held since August 28, 2012, when Hurricane Isaac brought more than 5 feet of water into Ironton and the surrounding areas. Ironton sits within a growing industrial corridor, home to the Alliance Refinery, International Marine Terminal and United Bulk coal export facilities, and the CGT and Allied grain export terminals. They are now threatened by the proposed RAM Terminal, another coal export facility that threatens to further burden the community with more noxious coal dust and water pollution. Last year, several residents from Ironton joined hands with neighbors and concerned groups to question the wisdom of permitting another coal export facility in the area. In September, just before Isaac struck, the Christian Missionary Baptist Minister’s Association of Plaquemines, of which St. Paul’s is a member, joined Sierra Club, LEAN and the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic in a legal challenge of RAM’s air permit, granted without a public hearing or an environmental analysis by the Department of Environmental Quality. Environmental Justice remains a key priority for the Sierra Club on all levels, and our work to stop the rush of coal export through the Gulf could not happen without the key support and participation of communities like Ironton and churches like St. Paul’s. As an attendee of the service, I can say that those of us in the environmental movement can learn a lot from places like Ironton and St. Paul’s church, not just about remaining strong in the face of overwhelming odds, but also learning to fully acknowledge and rejoice in our victories with song, food, mirth and true fellowship. The Sierra Club commends the Ironton community’s resolve, and celebrates their resilience and partial recovery from both environmental and political struggle. Devin Martin is the Sierra Club Delta Chapter Conservation Coordinator & Louisiana Coal Exports Campaign Organizer. This article has been re-posted with permission from the July 2013 issue of the Delta Sierran

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