Posts Tagged charleston cruise terminal

State Appeal Hearing… Thank you SELC & SCELP!!

Thanks to ALL those who attended! We took up most of the courtroom….Here is the full article:

 

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Appeals court hears argument on cruise ships in Charleston

COLUMBIA — The state Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday in the long-running debate over a new cruise ship terminal in Charleston’s Historic District.

There is no deadline for the court to make its ruling, and it could take a year or more.

The arguments centered on whether the Preservation Society of Charleston, Coastal Conservation League and residents of the city’s historic district have the right to sue the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for issuing a 2012 permit to the State Ports Authority for support pilings beneath an old warehouse at Union Pier.

That is where the Ports Authority wants to build a new, larger terminal for cruise ships, about 100 feet north of its current terminal.

The group of preservationists and conservationists filed a lawsuit challenging DHEC’s permit because they feel a larger terminal in the Historic District would exacerbate problems like pollution and traffic.

A state Administrative Law Court judge previously ruled the groups did not have a right to sue. Those groups filed their appeal in 2014, but the appeals court delayed hearing the oral arguments repeatedly.

Blan Holman, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center representing the plaintiffs, reiterated concerns about the proposed terminal Wednesday to the panel of three judges. He said if residents may challenge a permit for a liquor store near their homes, they also should be allowed to challenge a permit for a large cruise ship terminal nearby.

“These are not cargo ships. They are floating towns with more people than Sullivan’s Island,” Holman said.

He added that residents who live near the docked ships deal with soot from the exhaust pipes in the air and on their properties, potentially harming their health.

“These people are experiencing harm directly on their person and in their homes,” he said. “They are entitled to have a hearing from an administrative law judge.”

Attorney Chad Johnston of Willoughby & Hoefer PA of Columbia represented the SPA. He said the Administrative Law Court was right to dismiss the lawsuit because those residents and groups will not be harmed by future cruise ship operations.

“The Ports Authority submits that the cruise industry is a valuable part of its business model, and it will continue to accept cruise ships at its current location or at the new one, regardless of what happens in this case,” Johnston said.

 In addition to the state permit, the Ports Authority also needs a federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with the new terminal. A previous federal permit application was tossed out by U.S. District Judge Gergel, who ruled that it did not properly consider the impacts the new facility would have on the city’s Historic District.

The Army Corps is now reviewing a new application.

Bradley Churdar, DHEC’s attorney, argued Wednesday that the state’s permit should not be vacated simply because a previous federal permit had been. He also said the Administrative Law Court decision is not subject to appeal.

Chief Judge James E. Lockemy asked Holman what he thought might happen if that court’s ruling is upheld.

“I believe if we were found to not have standing … we would have fewer rights than the person who challenges the liquor store on the corner,” Holman said. “It’s taking away these taxpaying, property-holding citizens’ rights to participate in an administrative process.”

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Free Shuttle to State Appeal Hearing 2/15/17

Join us in Columbia for the State Appeal hearing!! Please sign up for the free shuttle….we must have a final head count by Saturday, February 11.

Click here to join us

Details:

Oral arguments in the cruise terminal state permit case before the SC Court of Appeals in Columbia, SC on February 15, at noon. A free shuttle has been organized by Charleston Communities for Cruise Control and the Coastal Conservation League to take those interested in being present to and from Columbia. A reservation is required so the appropriate size bus is reserved. Please do so via the link below before February 11!

This is an appeal of a decision by S.C. Administrative Law Judge R. K. Anderson III holding that the groups lacked “standing” to challenge the legality of permits for the proposed cruise terminal.

This is a major reason in having actual “bodies” there, showing that the groups are comprised of taxpaying citizens, and should be allowed to contest the permit!

Our attorneys contend on appeal that the ALC judge erred because, in fact, our groups and members have more than enough at stake to entitle us to an administrative hearing on whether the SC DHEC permit was unlawfully issued.

Letting the ALC’s decision stand would severely curtail the ability of neighboring citizens to defend their health and their property from unlawfully authorized pollution.

The argument is open to the public and you are encouraged to attend.  The Courthouse is located in the Calhoun State Office Building at 1220 Senate Street in Columbia.

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Letters to the Editor for Wednesday, Dec. 11

Clearing the air

Commendations are due the State Ports Authority and its CEO, Jim Newsome, for supporting removal of unhealthy air pollution from trucks at the SPA docks by promoting more eco-friendly trucks that haul cargo to and from its terminals. Incentives are given for short-haul drivers who travel back and forth from SPA terminals.
And the SPA’s new Clean Truck Certification Program requires trucks serving the container yards to be equipped with engines manufactured in 1994 or later. As a result, 84 trucks were replaced with more efficient ones at a cost of $1 million paid with support from the SPA and state. The goal was reduced diesel air pollution.

However, my commendation is tempered by the SPA’s refusal to require shore power for cruise ships which berth at Union Pier, right next to neighborhoods, causing far more air pollution than those trucks.

Why is the SPA not installing shore power to protect the health of Charleston residents and visitors?

And for shame that the City of Charleston is not requiring shore power for the same reasons. Why are Mayor Joe Riley and City Council not supporting shore power?

J. Kirkland Grant
Mary Street
Charleston

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20131211/PC1002/131219932/1021/letters-to-the-editor-for-wednesday-dec-11

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Judge: Opponents have standing to challenge state permit for Charleston cruise terminal

By BRUCE SMITH
Associated Press
Updated: December 03, 2013 – 3:16 pm

CHARLESTON, South Carolina — Charleston neighborhood, conservation and preservation groups may challenge a state permit for a $35 million South Carolina passenger cruise terminal, a state administrative law judge has ruled.

In a 16-page ruling on Monday, Chief Administrative Law Judge Ralph K. Anderson III rejected a South Carolina Ports Authority motion to dismiss a challenge to a state Department of Health and Environmental Control permit.

The DHEC permit certified that putting added pilings beneath an old riverfront warehouse so it can be renovated as a new terminal complies with state coastal regulations.

The permit challenge is one of three ongoing legal fights involving the city’s cruise industry.

The Ports Authority in July asked Anderson to dismiss the challenge to the state permit, saying the pilings have not yet been installed and so there has been no injury to the plaintiffs and they have no standing to appeal. Attorneys also argued the appeal should be dismissed because whether cruises operate out of Charleston is a political question, not one for the administrative law court.

Anderson noted the plaintiffs, who include six local groups, allege the permit will allow more cruise ships with the pollution, traffic and health impacts that accompany them.

“At this stage of the proceedings, the court finds that petitioners have sufficiently alleged that the organizations have standing,” he concluded, but added he would consider the larger issue of whether cruises should be allowed at all.

“The case before this court involves the discrete matter of whether the permit issued to the Ports Authority complies with state law,” he wrote.

A hearing is set for next month.

The question of whether the cruise industry is a public nuisance is now before the state Supreme Court. The justices heard arguments last month and have not indicated when they might rule.

The third legal challenge is to federal permit for the terminal pilings. A federal judge ruled in September that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not study the issue adequately and tossed out the permit. The Ports Authority and the Corps have appealed that decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia

Terminal opponents say they want limits on cruises so they don’t overwhelm the city. Supporters say the city will only be a niche cruise market and the industry is already being appropriately regulated.

(Story distributed by The Associated Press)

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CHS | After losing its permit, the SPA will surely compromise. Ah, no.

CHS | After losing its permit, the SPA will surely compromise.  Ah, no.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to comply with the “formal assessment and consultative requirements” of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) before awarding the SC Ports Authority (SPA) a permit to transform “a previously permitted transit shed…into a modern state-of-the-art $35-million cruise ship passenger terminal” at Union Pier in Charleston.

The Army Corps, for unknown and probably unknowable reasons, had determined that complying with the NEPA and NHPA assessments was unnecessary because “the proposed activity will result in minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects.”  The project, the Corps said, would qualify as “maintenance,” and stated that the cruise terminal project had “no potential to cause effects on historic properties.”

Judge Gergel ruled otherwise. The Army Corps of Engineers, he said, ignored its responsibilities to do a proper assessment under the controlling NEPA and NHPA acts by saying that it was limiting its review to only five new pilings to support elevators and escalators that would come in contact with navigable waters.  That argument, the Court said, is “plainly inconsistent with the Army Corps’ own regulation…which provides for jurisdiction involving ‘any structure in or over any navigable water in the United States.'”   In his conclusion, the judge went farther, saying that rather than consider “all the activities in its jurisdiction under the Rivers and Harbors Act ‘in its scope of analysis,’ the Army Corps of Engineers, unreasonably and unlawfully, restricted its ‘scope of analysis’ to an insignificant fraction of the project that lay within the agency’s jurisdiction.”

“By omitting more than 99% of the project within its jurisdiction…  “The Court finds that the Army Corps’ limitation of the ‘scope of analysis’ to five concrete pile clusters was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, and contrary to law.”

Almost equally disturbing were the SPA’s own statements and data that it presented to the Court.  Quoting from the ruling, “The Ports Authority has acknowledged that a cruise ship terminal can ‘present special challenges’ in ‘managing automobile and pedestrian traffic,’ ‘protecting the environment,’ ‘and preserving Charleston’s unique character’ and ‘there are still lingering questions about how well the cruise ship business will fit into the context of this diverse, world class city.'”  “Record evidence provided by the Ports Authority supports the [opponent’s] claim…that the number of cruise ships and passengers has increased in recent years, and the proposed new and larger passenger terminal would likely significantly increase the number and size of cruise ships visiting Charleston and the volume of cruise passengers in the historic Charleston waterfront.”  By 2012, the number of ships visiting Charleston had increased by 86% over “the 2005-2009 five-year average.”

And the SPA also gave us a glimpse into a far worse future.  With a new terminal, the 1990’s-era, 855’, 2,056-passenger Carnival “Fantasy” will be replaced with ships carrying 3,450 passengers.  And based on the SPA’s data, the Court concluded, “Even if the Ports Authority maintained its voluntary cap of 104 cruise ship visits a year(2), this would represent a 131% increase over the 2005-2009 five year average and a 24% increase from 2012.”   And to service such a volume of passengers, the Court noted, the SPA estimates that on an average embarkation and disembarkation day, “up to twenty tractor trailers, sixteen small trucks, thirty-two busses, ninety taxis, and 1600 passenger vehicles would need access to the very confined” terminal area that “lies immediately adjacent to the Charleston Historic District and the Ansonborough neighborhood.”

So how do you think the SPA reacted to the ruling?   Did it agree to comply, did it suggest a compromise, or did it offer to study another, less invasive location for a terminal?   No.  It appealed.  The appeal came in spite of the SPA’s own website that appears to invalidate any argument that their project could be considered “maintenance”:  “…Charleston is an ideal cruise port.  With an efficiently run operation and plans for a new state-of-the-art cruise terminal, our port is ready to welcome cruise operators and travelers alike.”(3)  Yes, and with the widening of the Panama Canal and a newly prosperous Chinese middle class, are we to believe that those ships of the future will carry only 3,450 travelers?

But if you’re looking for relief from Charleston’s mayor or its complacent, compliant City Council, forget it.  Mayor Joseph Riley recently reiterated his total lack of interest in regulating cruise ship tourism.(4)   So it’s up to the courts.

Oral arguments in another case will be presented this Tuesday, this one at the SC Supreme Court.(5)   Carnival Cruise Lines will argue to dismiss charges that it’s violating zoning ordinances, permitting requirements and creating a nuisance.(6)  True to form, both the SPA and the City of Charleston intervened in this case on behalf of…the defendant, not on behalf of the residents, organizations and associations trying to protect Charleston from the accelerating threat of unregulated cruise ship tourism.

Surely the SC Supreme Court read Judge Richard Gergel’s decision and recognizes the defendant’s fallacious assertion that their massive floating resorts can tie up at will, disgorge thousands of people simultaneously onto the world’s most cherished historic places, and then ignore every rule and regulation these historic places have developed to protect their history, culture and quality of life.  Or must degradation accompany this exploitation?

Jay, 15 Nov 13

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1)   U.S. District of South Carolina, Charleston Division, Court Decision.  Preservation Society and Coastal Conservation League vs. US Army Corps of Engineers and SC Ports Authority
<Federal Cruise Permit SJ Order 9-18-13.pdf>

2)  The SPA has steadfastly refused to commit those “voluntary limits” in to legally binding limits.
“This Charleston Harbor Battle is over Cruise Ships” – NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/us/battle-in-genteel-charleston-over-cruise-ships.html?_r=0

3)  South Carolina Ports website – Cruise Charleston page
http://www.port-of-charleston.com/cruises/cruises.asp

4)  Reports of Mayor Joseph Riley’s comments at the membership meeting of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Assn., 29 Oct 13.

5)  South Carolina Supreme Court, Register of Cases for November, 2013.  Look for first case on 19 November.
http://www.judicial.state.sc.us/supremeRosters/dspSupRosterMenu.cfm

6)  “Carnival Cruise Lines asks for Dismissal of Suit” – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20110810/PC05/308109921

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr., published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and discussions about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is involved with various local organizations, the opinions he expresses are solely his; they do not represent the views of any organization or other individual.  Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. We present these blogs for C4 website visitors as an information source and as an additional way to chronologically follow the debates, commentaries and discussions about cruise tourism in Charleston.

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The case for regulating cruise ship access to heritage ports – please Charleston, take heed!

As a former resident of Key West and activist interested in protecting the environment and quality of life, I have been closely following the debate regarding cruise industry regulation in Charleston. I am writing to say “Please, Charleston! Learn from the mistakes made by others and protect your city. There is no going back once you move forward.”

On Oct. 1, voters in Key West, Fla., defeated a plan that would have led to vastly more cruise ship passengers. The margin of defeat was nearly three-to-one. Voters came from different points of view; some environmental, some fed up with endless overcrowding, but 74 percent agreed that the cruise ship industry has harmed the island’s quality of life.

Over the past half century, the cruise ship industry has matured into a global leviathan, transporting passengers to every exotic locale on the planet with a port to handle passengers.

But what happens to the places and the people themselves, who live in cruise ports? And beyond the question of people, what happens to the cultural fabric of a place when cruise ships disgorge hundreds of thousands, or millions of people, on a place?

Further growth fundamentally alters the balance of commerce in many of the world’s unique and special places. Trinket shops serving cruise ship customers have pushed out local businesses on every principal route in the city. Indifferent mass market retail outlets cast an ugly shadow on street scenes. New jobs created come at the expense of many others.

The numbers of visitors simply overwhelm the local culture that was the attraction in the first place. What survives in its place is a hybrid, manufactured experience that retains the outward appearance of the original culture, but is otherwise wholly re-fitted to serve a transient mass market.

The erosion of heritage caused by cruise ships is inescapable. Cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale essentially become pass-through locations, bearing the weight of services with little benefit to the local tax base.

In Venice, the costs of maintaining an island economy, under stress from rising seas and commerce depending on boat transportation for every activity, are difficult enough. But the essential character of the place has been infected by a kind of lassitude.

The industry’s profit model is to “feed them like crazy, let them out for a walk in port to buy a T-shirt, but return them from port to spend more back on board.” Letting passengers out for air is what cruise ships do, people with only a passing knowledge of the places they visit, but for the culture they overwhelm, there is no relief.

The default rebuttal of the cruise ship industry and its assorted parts is that they are only providing what the market wants — supply and demand. But if simple economics harm the very underlying attractions of place, there ought to be government regulation.

Ocean liners in the early 20th century bore the imprimatur of romance and adventure. Is this dystopian vision of the modern version of the industry too harsh?

Can coastal communities otherwise cope with declining economies like fishing (too much demand, too little supply because pollution and failure to manage fisheries) or end-of-the-road, small scale economies that offer few opportunities for grown children?

What ought to determine outcomes, in the regulation of the cruise ship industry, is maintaining character of place and cultural fabric. These are the tangible, core features of coastal communities that have struggled, often for centuries, to maintain identity.

No one who lives in a port sought by cruise ships should fall for the argument that a rising economic tide will lift all ships.

It doesn’t happen. The industry’s belt needs tightening, and only local destinations are equipped to do it.

In Key West, for the time being, the voters just tightened the industry’s belt.

Charleston should heed Key West’s and Savannah’s examples.

Alan Farago, a former resident of Key West, lives in Coral Gables, Fla., and is president of Friends of the Everglades.

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Federal judge denies extension in cruise terminal lawsuit

The federal government shutdown is not cause for an extension in a lawsuit challenging a $35 million cruise terminal the State Ports Authority wants to open in downtown Charleston. In a recent ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel said the shutdown doesn’t give him the authority to change a deadline coming up this week in the federal complaint. The lawsuit is challenging an Army Corps of Engineers permit for the proposed passenger building at Union Pier. The Army Corps asked Gergel this month to extend Wednesday’s deadline to respond to his order requiring the agency to go back and review the project more thoroughly. The Army Corps said in court records that the federal shutdown has caused a lapse in funding at the U.S. Department of Justice, which is representing it in the lawsuit. The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed the case after the Army Corps issued a permit allowing five pilings to be driven on the waterfront. The pilings are needed to help transform an existing warehouse into the new passenger building.

The opposition groups have said the agency didn’t take into account the impact on historic properties. Gergel agreed. In September, he ordered the Army Corps to redo the study with a more extensive review of the effects on the environment and historic properties. The ports authority, which has joined the lawsuit as a defendant, has been seeking to relocate its cruise terminal to the north end of Union Pier from the south end for about three years. The complaint before Gergel is one of three lawsuits targeting cruise-ship operations in downtown Charleston.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.

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F for Carnival Fantasy

Friends of the Earth has just released its Cruise Line Report Card for 2013, which can be viewed by clicking here.

This year’s Report Card compares the environmental footprint of 16 major cruise lines and 162 cruise ships, in order to help vacationers decide which cruise to take based on a cruise ship or cruise line’s environmental and human health impacts.
The Carnival Fantasy, for the fifth year in a row, earned an overall grade of an “F.” Carnival Cruise Lines began homeporting the Carnival Fantasy (the oldest ship in its fleet) in Charleston beginning in 2010.

The ship’s grade is the result of the following:

  • The ship lacks the most advanced sewage and wastewater treatment systems available, and instead dumps minimally treated sewage directly into the water.
  • The ship is not retrofitted to plug in to shorepower, and instead runs polluting engines when docked in the heart of our downtown area.
  • The ship utilizes higher sulfur fuels continuously.

Carnival Cruise Lines as a whole earned an overall grade of a “C-.” This is an improvement from prior grades over the years. Carnival Cruise Lines has 24 ships, and only two of those ships have advanced sewage treatment systems. The line has one ship operating in Alaska, and during the graded year received four citations from Alaskan authorities for violations of the state’s water pollution standards.
It is also important to distinguish that Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise holder, owns nearly half of the lines in this report, not just Carnival Cruise Lines.

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Power Struggle: You Cruise, You Lose!

As taken from The Post and Courier, by Frank Wooten:

Shoreside power to the cruise ships!

That variation on “Power to the people!” won’t generate a rallying cry for Charlestonians demanding that cruise ships use shoreside power when docked here.

But that contentious issue is still sparking hard feelings.

As plugged-in colleague Bo Petersen reported on our front page Wednesday, getting electricity to a cruise ship that “switches off its engine in port to keep from burning polluting fuel” requires an “outlet that zings enough juice to light up several thousand homes.”

However, the venerable Carnival Fantasy, which home-ports at the State Ports Authority’s cruise terminal on the south end of Union Pier, isn’t equipped for shoreside power.

Our story also reported that what “started this whole mess and continues to drive it is toxic black exhaust from the cruise ship smokestacks at dock as the engines provide the ship’s electric power.”

And that powers much of the opposition to the proposed new $35 million SPA terminal at the north end of Union Pier.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is on board with SPA President/CEO Jim Newsome for that plan, which includes an extensive — and expensive — waterfront redevelopment beyond the new terminal. Both men stress that you can’t have one (that grand redevelopment) without the other (that swell new terminal).

The Coastal Conservation League and Preservation Society of Charleston are among the groups challenging the terminal construction permit in court.

Some folks see the new terminal and its accompanying redevelopment as needed economic-engine boosters in what is, after all, our Port City.

Some folks question why the city gives cruise ships a virtually free regulatory ride — and why those massive motors should keep belching unhealthy emissions while those vessels are docked.

Some dignified downtown folks are aghast at the unseemly spectacle of cruise passengers clad in T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops roaming freely about our Holy City.

Hazardous voyages

Enough about that divisive power debate for now.

What powers cruisers our way in the first place?

From Carnival’s web site:

“Give in to the genteel feel of the old South on Carnival cruises from Charleston, South Carolina. This is a gracious city of antebellum homes and sprawling plantations, best appreciated from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. The city’s unique Low country cuisine and dozens of delicious restaurants make it a southern foodie destination.”

Gee, and we genteel types lucky enough to live in these parts can do all of that without packing ourselves like sardines with strangers on a big boat (actually, a ship).

Most of us who live here even know that Lowcountry is one word.

Anyway, regardless of your present location or desired destination, why risk the ordeals endured by far too many cruisers?

Three months ago, Carnival figuratively threw co-founder Micky Arison overboard from his 35-year job as CEO.

From an Associated Press dispatch: “Arison came under fire during Carnival’s bad publicity earlier in the year when a string of its cruise ships suffered through mechanical problems and fires. The most dramatic of them was the Carnival Triumph where passengers were stranded at sea for five days as toilets backed up and air conditioners failed. There were media reports of raw sewage seeping through walls and carpets.”

We non-cruisers drew fresh validation from those gruesome plumbing details.

Fortunately, though, you can vicariously savor high-seas romance without smelling any broken-down cruise-ship stench.

Just watch vintage reruns of “The Love Boat” online.

Exciting and new

That 1977-87 ABC diversion features a future U.S. House member (Iowa Republican Fred Grandy as ship’s purser Burl “Gopher” Smith) and guest-star rosters of show-biz has-beens (including future California Republican House member Sonny Bono as a rock singer who falls in love with a deaf woman).

Despite a generally breezy tone, the series’ subtle subtexts frequently explore expanding social consciousness.

A DVD synopsis of my favorite episode, from 1978:

“A beauty contest on board ship divides a couple (Maureen McCormick, Bobby Sherman). A reporter (Vicki Lawrence) falls for a disgraced congressman (Dick Van Patten).”

They don’t make TV shows like that anymore.

But they do still make disgraced congressmen.

And they make cruise ships that can use shoreside power.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.

 

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