Groups sue over Louisiana’s approval of coal export facility


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A lawsuit claims the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources violated state law and its own guidelines when it approved a permit for a new coal exporting facility in Plaquemines Parish.

The lawsuit filed Thursday asks the state district court in Plaquemines Parish to vacate the permit for RAM Terminals LLC to build and operate the plant at Myrtle Grove. Environmental groups say in the suit that the site is adjacent to a Mississippi River diversion project aimed at replenishing coastal wetlands with river sediment.

The suit says the project could interfere with the diversion and would pose a pollution threat to coastal vegetation.

In a statement Thursday evening, a DNR spokesman said the department followed permitting procedures and gave primary consideration to the potential effects on coastal wetlands.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the Sierra Club Delta Chapter, the Gulf Restoration Network, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, and two people who live near the project.

The suit says a dock and facilities for loading, unloading and storing coal and petroleum coke would be close to two other similar facilities from which the products and their residues already fall into the river.

In addition to threatening wetlands restoration, the suit claims, the project also could lead to plumes of coal particles being released into the air and threatening the health of Plaquemines Parish residents.

Thursday's statement from DNR spokesman Patrick Courreges said the department had not received a copy of the suit and would be limited in commenting on specific points during the litigation. But the statement added the contention that DNR's Office of Coastal Management followed procedures and conducted the permit process appropriately.

A spokesman for RAM Terminals declined comment Friday.

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