The Sierra Club is leading a testing program to fight the addition of a third coal terminal in Plaquemines Parish. The state Office of Coastal Management is recommending the terminal be allowed.
The RAM Terminal company wants to build a 600-acre coal export facility in Myrtle Grove, part of Plaquemines Parish. That coal would arrive by train and on Mississippi River barges and then head overseas.
Two other coal terminals operate in the area.
The Sierra Club is one of several environmental groups that fought the permit.
“The issuance of this recent permit is by no means the end of this fight," said Devin Martin, the Sierra Club's conservation coordinator.
The state determined the economic benefits outweigh the environmental impacts.
Martin says residents are being trained to take water and air samples to compile a database. He’ll take that information to show state and federal agencies that current terminals are causing pollution, and a third would cause more.
Martin says groups will also argue that a major coastal restoration project near the proposal could be affected.
“We also reduce the credibility of our entire restoration program if on the one hand we’re asking the federal government for $40 billion in the next 40 years to restore our coast," he said. "On the very other hand we’re permitting facilities that are going to undermine, and perhaps destroy, the entire purpose of that project.”
The RAM proposal still needs approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers and more permits from state and local agencies.