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Air Quality

Louisiana’s $2.5B Oil Terminal On A Slave Cemetery Will Emit Over 500,000 Tons Of Air Pollution Annually

If it were possible to slap a state on the back of its head, I would do so. My state is doing something that is just straight bonkers. Not only will its shiny new $2.5 billion oil terminal emit 566,466 tons of greenhouse gases per year, but it’s being built upon a slave cemetery!!!

A Midwest energy company and Plaquemines Parish officials are bringing back plans to build this oil pipeline & Mississippi River export terminal and the developers plan to invest $2.5 billion (as if they didn’t have better things to put $2.5 billion into). This will only create 35 permanent jobs, which really isn’t that many for such an investment despite the fact that supporters of fossil fuels tout their “job creation benefits” pretty often.

The Cemetery & Interference With Barataria Bay’s Restoration Of SELA Wetlands

The plant and pipeline will be built on a 19th century cemetery for enslaved people. And there’s the possibility it will interfere with Louisiana’s $2 billion proposal to restore storm-buffering wetlands in Barataria Bay. Just last month I reported on the Mid-Barataria Sediment Division’s plans to save Louisiana’s southeastern wetlands. Those wetlands could be impacted by this newly revived pipeline project.

Nola.com also reported that after over a year of stalling, the Plaquemines Liquids Terminal project’s developers plan to apply for an “air pollution permit” which will be one of several they will need to begin construction after commercializing the project. It’s bad enough that this area is considered Cancer Alley due to all of the polluting plants. Now they want to add an additional 500,000+ tons of GHG pollution to our air every year, along with other pollution.

The terminal, which will be 200 acres, will accept oil from a new 700-mile pipeline that begins in Oklahoma. It will also store as many as 20 million barrels. This project is a joint one between Tallgrass Energy LP, Drexel Hamilton Infrastructure Partners, LP, and the Plaquemines Port, Harbor and Terminal district.

Once built, the terminal will be next to the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion, which is critical to restoring our wetlands. Nola.com noted that past studies have suggested that the oil terminal could reduce the sediment entering the Mid-Barataria’s channel by up to 17%, which will slow its land-building capabilities.

In 2019, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said that the project was “not inconsistent” with its master plan, but this depends on Tallgrass Energy being able to design it to avoid affecting the diversion. There were attempts to secure the Plaquemines Liquids Terminal’s permits from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality in February 2020. Those were called off, as Tallgrass wanted to wait for new sediment study results. Those results still aren’t in, but the company changed its mind about waiting.

The timing of the resurrection of this project is odd. President Biden and Governor Edwards both have set goals to achieve net zero carbon emissions within 30 years. Adding over 500,000 tons of carbon to the air annually is not how you go about achieving net zero carbon emissions.

Greenhouse Gas Breakdown

Nola.com gave a breakdown of the types of emissions that this project will be adding to our air. The Plaquemines Liquids Terminals would release:

  • 125 tons of carbon monoxide.
  • 572 tons of volatile organic compounds.
  • 566,466 tons of greenhouse gases.

Scott Eustis, the community science director for Healthy Gulf, shared that he thought the project’s permit applications were incomplete without the wetlands and sediment studies and the formal revisions to protect the cemetery.

“Without this study or Sanders’ promises not to excavate the graves reflected in a legally enforceable document, the permit hearing is premature,” he said while referring to the Plaquemines Port’s executive director, Maynard Jackson “Sandy” Sanders.

Parish Councilman Carlton LaFrance Sr. mentioned that he’d met with representatives from the port, Tallgrass, and residents of Ironton who will be affected by the plan. That meeting was to continue discussions around the graveyard with plans to set up some type of walkthrough on the site. He said that the cemetery is a more important priority than the air pollution or the project’s effect on the Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion. He also joined the Parish Council’s recent unanimous vote to oppose the diversion, Nola.com reported.

My Thoughts

Interfering with a diversion that would help protect our state’s residents from storms is not cool. We have been through enough hurricanes to know the disastrous effects of these storms. And these storms will only grow worse as the climate gets warmer. So, opposing something that would help us is senseless.

As for the cemetery, I may just be a bit on the superstitious side, but I am from Louisiana and you just don’t mess with the dead, because they will mess with you back. Sounds silly, yes, but I have friends who put mirrors outside of their front doors to protect from dark spirits. (And yes, I have them, too.) We have some odd beliefs here and messing around with a cemetery is, in my humble opinion, a great way to bring about some ill luck. Even if you don’t believe — just leave the dead alone. How would you feel if someone decided to plow through your grandparents’ cemetery? How would you feel if your grandparents were slaves and someone decided to plow through your their cemetery?

I honestly don’t know what’s worse, the insane amount of air pollution that this project will pump out or the backwardness of some of our ruling politicians.


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Written By

Johnna Crider is a Louisiana native who likes crawfish, gems, minerals, EVs, and advocates for sustainability. Johnna is also the host of GettingStoned.online, a jewelry artisan and a $TSLA shareholder.

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