NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A south Louisiana parish is suing the Port of New Orleans to block it from building a planned $1.8 billion container facility.
The St. Bernard Parish District Attorney’s Office filed the lawsuit this week in 34th Judicial District Court, the latest volley in a battle between politicians and residents who say the giant container port — called the Louisiana International Terminal — at Violet would disrupt life and cause environmental damage.
Port Nola CEO Brandy Christian called the lawsuit “preposterous” and “election-year theatrics.”
District Attorney Perry Nicosia, in a news release Friday, said the cooperative endeavor agreement between the St. Bernard Port Authority and Port Nola is not valid and Port Nola does not have the authority to operate a shipping facility within the borders of St. Bernard Parish, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.
“The lawsuit filed lays out the entire legislative process by which the St. Bernard Port Authority was created (and) further proves that Port Nola was stripped of all its jurisdiction in St. Bernard Parish by legislation passed in 1992 by then Senator Sammy Nunez, then Representative Thomas Warner, and then Representative Ken Odinet,” Nicosia said.
The project has been the subject of controversy since Port Nola first announced at the end of 2020 that it had purchased 1,100 acres at Violet and agreed with St. Bernard Port to build the LIT. Port Nola, which has argued that the downriver container facility is long overdue to allow it to compete with other Gulf South ports for big ship business, has the support of Gov. John Bel Edwards as well as regional and parish economic development agencies.
Last year, Port Nola and the state signed a deal with two private operators who agreed to provide $800 million to help build the terminal as well as financing infrastructure upgrades. Port Nola’s board recently approved $8 million in contracts that will finalize the project’s design and lay the groundwork for construction.
But earlier this summer, the project suffered a setback when $130 million of a needed $180 million for infrastructure improvements was removed from the state budget.
Christian bemoaned the holdups, adding that the port would “review (the lawsuit) and respond in due course.”
“For decades, it has been clear that a new container terminal is needed downriver from the Crescent City Connection Bridge in order to secure the future of the state’s trade-based economy and to make Louisiana the premier shipping gateway in the Gulf,” she said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, it’s situations like this that have left Louisiana struggling to compete with neighboring states. Election year theatrics, when this process has been going on for years with regular outreach and input, are unproductive.”