Posts Tagged terminal

SPA’s terminal ‘victory’ illusory

The State Ports Authority has won another round in court regarding its planned passenger terminal.

But it is losing in the court of credibility with the public by using such legal rulings to avoid doing two things that are clearly the right things to do.

The SPA will not commit to installing shoreside power for cruise ships to use while at dock.

Even Charleston City Council has indicated its concern about air pollution from cruise ships. And both the state and the county medical societies have called for shoreside power on behalf of public health.

Further, the SPA refuses to sign a memorandum of agreement that it will not increase the size or number of cruise-ship calls in Charleston.

SPA president/CEO Jim Newsome has given his word that he won’t grow the cruise business without first informing the city.

Why not an official limit?

Establishing one would defuse a lot of the angst people have about cruise ships and the burdens they put on historic Charleston. Crowding. Noise. Visual insult. And threats to the health of people and to the environment.

And why not agree to shoreside power, which is the present gold standard for reducing air emissions?

Why won’t a state agency do what is best for citizens of that very state?

An agency that considers itself part of Team South Carolina would want healthy neighbors. It would openly discuss where a new terminal should go.

It shouldn’t take a court order for the SPA to do what’s right.

Indeed, while S.C. Administrative Law Judge Ralph Anderson III ruled last Friday against a coalition of neighborhood associations preservation organizations and conservationists challenging the plan for the terminal, he didn’t say their concerns were wrong.

In essence he said that those who filed the suit were no different from others whose health is in jeopardy because of air emissions from cruise ships.

That might make sense to lawyers, but the public is reasonable to ask why the SPA operates in a way that affects so many people negatively.

Further, Judge Anderson said that the law doesn’t apply to what might happen, only what has happened. So to suggest that more and larger cruise ships visiting Charleston would mean more pollution, more crowding and diminished property values is not admissible. It might not happen.

But again the public is reasonable to fear such an increase and the ills it would bring. Ports around the globe have taken such courses to the detriment of their host cities.

And again, the SPA, which doesn’t intend to grow the cruise business, could put the public’s minds at rest by agreeing to reasonable, enforceable limits.

The State Ports Authority has an economic mission: to grow and to serve more business and industry.

But it is a state agency, and there’s something wrong when a state agency, given the opportunity to do the right thing for the public, chooses not to.

Shoreside power advocates support resolution

Click here to see the newsclip or read the verbiage below.

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Charleston City Council is debating whether it should pass a resolution supporting shore power for cruise ships. The measure would require ships to use electricity while docked instead of its onboard diesel engines.

A group of supporters is pushing to make it a reality.

“We want people to still want to come here.  We don’t want them to be overwhelmed,” said Carrie Agnew.

She loves Charleston, but she worries about its future as a tourist destination because of pollution from cruise ships.

“If you’re going to be doing something, you want to be doing the most advanced thing as possible.  And I think Charleston deserves no less,” said Agnew.

She’s executive director of Charleston Communities For Cruise Control, also known as C-4.  Her group wants city leaders to push for shore power at a proposed passenger terminal at Union Pier.

“We just think it makes much more sense when you’re building a new cruise terminal to be fiscally responsible and environmentally sensitive and do the right thing,” said Agnew.

Carnival has already promised to install exhaust-gas cleaning technology on its Charleston-based “Fantasy” next year.  It’s already begun using low-sulfur marine gas oil.

Officials from the State Ports Authority say more than $16 million has been spent in the last ten years to reduce the environmental impact of its operations.  They support Carnival’s efforts to do the same.

Still, advocates of shore power say more needs to be done to protect the environment and people.

“The amount of soot on my porch increased significantly,” said Gil Baldwin.

He lives near Union Pier.  The retired doctor is also a medical advisor for C4.  He, too, is concerned about pollution from cruise ships.

“We know that plug-in power reduces these harmful, very carcinogenic materials to virtually zero,” said Baldwin.

CHS | The Lawsuits; what you may not know

CHS |  The Lawsuits; what you may not know

If Brian Hicks and Mayor Riley are your only information sources about the proposed Union Pier cruise terminal project, you can be forgiven for not knowing much about it.  Especially about two of the most recent lawsuits.

The most recent Hicks column began, “The State Supreme Court was pretty dismissive to the ‘cruise control’ crowd last month” before saying that the justices “were sort of condescending.”  And “if that wasn’t [sic] dismissive enough,” Hicks continued, “Mayor Riley called the lawsuit ‘almost laughable’ from the start.”(1)  Fortunately for Charleston, there are more nuanced commentators.

It’s correct that the SC Supreme Court dismissed the case concerning Carnival Cruise Line’s alleged violations of local and nuisance ordinances on a technicality, saying that the various neighborhood and preservation organizations weren’t the proper parties to make these claims.  But the court also said that individuals could bring claims in a separate lawsuit.(2,3)   Importantly, the court did not say any of the claims lacked merit, and as new claims may be raised against Carnival in the future, the suggestion that the court was “condescending” or that the claims are “laughable” is pure spin.

In a separate statement, Blan Holman, the Southern Environmental Law Center attorney representing the plaintiff’s noted that, “Today’s court ruling did not address whether Carnival’s home basing operation complies with local ordinances, or whether it is a nuisance that interferes with the property rights of neighboring home owners, as the plaintiffs alleged.”(4)  These are the allegations that Mr. Hicks and the mayor have elected to ignore.  Then there’s that second case…

Last September, as U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel tossed out the federal permit for the planned $35 million cruise terminal at Union Pier, he minced no words declaring that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately review the project’s impacts on the area.  Chastising the Corps’ attorneys, Judge Gergel said, “I think you did an end run, you gave this permit the bum’s rush.”   Refusing to accept the SPA’s specious argument that the waterfront terminal only needed a federal permit to install five new pilings, the judge told the defendants’ attorneys, “You have an obligation to look at the entire project.  “You haven’t done what the law requires you to do by reducing a 108,000-square-foot project to 41 square feet of pilings. The process got distorted by limiting it to five piers.”(6)  This blog correctly predicted that the SPA and Army Corps would defiantly appeal the ruling, and they did before reconsidering their position last month.(7)

Because of this ruling, the Army Corps of Engineers must conduct a thorough review of all the environmental and historic impacts of locating a giant new cruise terminal at Union Pier.  Such reviews are very specific and Congressionally-mandated in these situations.  This is the same requirement that the SPA tried to evade earlier in its head-on rush to build a terminal before anyone might realize of all of its potential impacts.  Brian Hicks and Mayor Riley are no doubt upset by that failure to comport with the law.

Most importantly, Judge Gergel also highlighted the central problem of locating a cruise terminal near the heart of Charleston’s Historic District, arguably South Carolina’s centerpiece of tourism, culture, and economic development.  As the AP reported, “the judge said that there is evidence in the 1,200-page court record that the terminal is being designed for larger ships than now call and could more than triple the number of cruise passengers visiting the city.”(6)   And “triple” may be an understatement.

Later in his column, Brian Hicks wrote, “This is not over by a long shot.”  For that, he should be thankful.  Now there’s an opportunity during this federally-mandated process for the Army Corps to seek honest local input, do a thorough study of impacts, and research alternative locations for a cruise terminal.  Those contrived State Ports Authority “citizen input sessions” won’t cut it this time–a federal court will be watching.

Jay, 11 Feb 14

#   #    #

1)  Over, Cruise ship fight isn’t over until we say it is – Brian Hicks – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140202/PC16/140209942/1177/over-cruise-ship-fight-isnt-over-until-we-say-it-is

2)  Limit Cruise ship consequences on peninsula – Steve Gates – P&C
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140204/PC1002/140209796/1021/limit-cruise-ship-consequences-on-peninsula

3) SC High Court throws out Cruise pollution case – Law 360
http://www.law360.com/articles/503095/sc-high-court-throws-out-carnival-cruise-pollution-case

4)  Supreme Court leaves legality of Cruise Harms in Historic Charleston unanswered  – Blan Holman, SELC
http://www.southernenvironment.org/newsroom/press_releases/supreme_court_leaves_legality_of_cruise_ship_harms_in_historic_charleston_u/

5)  SC Supreme Court tosses lawsuit seeking to block cruise ship operations – Meg Kinnard – AP
http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/travel/241519801.html

6)  Judge tosses permit for SC Cruise Terminal – Bruce Smith – AP
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/judge-tosses-federal-permit-sc-cruise-terminal

7)  SPA and Army Corps of Engineers withdraw cruise terminal permit appeal – Charleston Business Journal
https://www.charlestonbusiness.com/news/50021-spa-army-corps-of-engineers-to-withdraw-cruise-terminal-permit-appeal

 

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.

Over? Cruise ship fight isn’t over until we say it is

Over? Cruise ship fight isn’t over until we say it is

by, Brian Hicks, The Post and Courier

The state Supreme Court was pretty dismissive to the “cruise control” crowd last month.

For three years, downtown residents, preservationists and conservationists have tried to put limits on Carnival Cruise Lines’ business and stop the State Ports Authority’s plan to build a new terminal in their back yard.

They’ve been passionate, they’ve been tenacious, they’ve even been flying ugly flags from their downtown homes in protest.

And after all that, South Carolina’s high court dismissed their lawsuit as if it was an afternoon soap opera the justices were embarrassed to admit they’d tuned into.

In fact, they were sort of condescending.

“All members of the public suffer from and are inconvenienced by traffic congestion, pollution, noises and obstructed view, and (p)laintiffs have not alleged they suffer these harms in any personal, individual way,” the ruling read.

Ouch. If that wasn’t dismissive enough, Mayor Joe Riley called the lawsuit “almost laughable” from the start.

Now, he has a point about some of the sillier concerns (“view shed,” indeed), but the reasonable folks involved in this thing aren’t laughing.

And they aren’t finished either.

Pick your battle

Last week, while everyone else was stripping the grocery stores of bread and milk, a group of concerned residents got together to talk about their next steps in the war on cruise ships.

They are on the ropes, no doubt.

The Supreme Court dismissed the suit on a technicality, claiming the groups that filed didn’t have standing. It was something of a dodge. The merits of the case didn’t get a ruling – but they did get criticized a bit in the 11-page decision.

At one point, the justices say the lawsuit “fails to make factual allegations sufficient” to prove zoning is being violated. They mention that they’d already dismissed the argument that the Fantasy’s smokestack violates the city’s sign ordinance.

OK, you’ve got to admit that one was a stretch.

But the court made it clear that individuals could come back and file the same suit, make the same arguments and claim personal damages.

And you can bet your boarding pass that is exactly what some of these folks will do.

This is not over by a long shot. The groups are still challenging the state permitting process, and are watching to see what the Army Corps of Engineers does next on federal permitting, which could lead them to refile that suit.

All that stuff is pretty technical, and not very sexy. It could be effective, though.

But the real nuisance for the city, the port and Carnival will be the next suit – especially if it focuses on pollution.

Shore side solution?

Some folks have not done the cause any favors by complaining about the class of tourists oozing out of the Fantasy.

That has allowed the other side to dismiss all the critics as a bunch of snobs, and that’s not the case.

Truth is, even some of the cruise control folks cringe when they hear that stuff, as they should – because some people are snobs. Well, they’d better get used to tourists. In case they hadn’t heard, we are the best tourist town in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Many of these cruise control advocates are reasonable folks just looking for a little concession. The city, the port and cruise line have felt no compulsion to compromise, however, because they know some people will never be satisfied.

Some people just want the ships gone, period. And that’s not going to happen.

But there is some hope for concerned citizens. State Reps. Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis are pushing for the state to install shore side power capabilities at SPA docks. That could cut down on the group’s most legitimate concern: pollution.

There will always be tourists here, and there will always be traffic. But if downtown residents can prove there is also air pollution, shore side power would be a huge win.

Maybe the two sides could actually find some – gasp – compromise.

And we could finally quit talking about the Un-Loved Boat.

Letters to the Editor, Thursday, Jan. 30

Stop the ships

Since the Preservation Society of Charleston and its members have no standing before the court to try to regulate cruise ships, that leaves it up to those who certainly do have a standing: we the people who live here.

Those of us who understand the damage the ships are doing and will do to our beloved city should gather together as individuals, find a lawyer and re-file in our individual names.

Passengers who want to visit Charleston could take a land taxi (jobs) or a water taxi (more jobs) to Charleston. And anybody who doesn’t want to come to Charleston would be welcomed by Mount Pleasant restaurants and other businesses (more jobs) and especially the Yorktown. The Yorktown would benefit immeasurably (even more jobs?).

Docking the ships near the Yorktown in Mount Pleasant would be a win-win for everyone. Why don’t we just do it?

Sue Johnson
Meeting Street
Charleston

Supreme Court Leaves Legality of Cruise Ship Harms in Historic Charleston Unanswered

Press statement from the Southern Environmental Law Center
For Immediate Release: January 22, 2014
Contact: Blan Holman, attorney, SELC, 919-302-6819 (cell)

Supreme Court Leaves Legality of Cruise Ship Harms in Historic Charleston Unanswered

CHARLESTON, S.C.–The South Carolina Supreme Court today left open the question of whether the harms caused by Carnival’s cruise operation in historic Charleston are legal, instead ruling that a case challenging their legality must be brought by individual property owners rather than neighborhood associations and other groups. The crucial questions for Charleston – whether Carnival’s operation is a nuisance that could be cleaned up and whether an international cruise corporation is exempt from local and state laws – remain unresolved.
“We’re disappointed that after two years the Court refused to pass on the legality of Carnival’s operation and instead dismissed the case on a legal technicality that the claims should have been brought by individual property owners rather than neighborhood associations and other groups,” said Blan Holman, the Southern Environmental Law Center attorney who represented the plaintiff groups in the lawsuit. “If the upshot of the order is that individual property owners have to file separate lawsuits, then resolving the underlying legal merits will have gotten more cumbersome and resource intensive for everyone.”
Today’s court ruling did not address whether Carnival’s home basing operation complies with local ordinances, or whether it is a nuisance that interferes with the property rights of neighboring home owners, as the plaintiffs alleged. The Court also did not rule that the kinds of injuries caused by Carnival cannot support a suit – just that the level of injury alleged was too widespread and general.
Holman said the plaintiff groups – the Preservation Society of Charleston, Coastal Conservation League, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, and Charlestowne Neighborhood Association – will review their options in light of the ruling. Their statements to the court still stand, including affidavits of very specific injuries that the court did not address. Individual property owners have expressed interest in refiling the nuisance case.
The case ruled on today by the court is one of three challenges brought by the nonprofit law center on behalf of some of the same clients. In a challenge to the federal permit for a proposed cruise ship terminal in downtown Charleston capable of home basing an even larger ship than based there now. A federal court ruled last September that the groups had standing and that the permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was unlawfully issued. The U.S. Department of Justice attorneys subsequently abandoned its appeal of that decision. Now the Army Corps is starting its reconsideration of the terminal proposal anew.
Groups also challenged state permit for the proposed new terminal in South Carolina Administrative Law Court.
The groups contesting these permits have asked for public consideration of options such as
shore-side power to reduce diesels soot or pollution from the cruise ships, alternative terminal
configurations that minimize disruption to the nearby national Historic District, and standards on
the size and frequency of visits by home-based cruise ships to ensure growth in scale with
historic Charleston.

###

About the Southern Environmental Law Center
The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment
of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC’s team of
nearly 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water
quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

Our perseverance is apparently being heard at State levels

Proposed legislation to bring shore-side power to Charleston cruise terminal

by Tyrone Richardson, Post and Courier

Cruise ships docked in Charleston soon could be plugging into a shoreside power outlet, a welcome development for groups that have complained about fumes from the idling vessels.

State Reps. Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis announced a plan Friday to authorize up to $5 million to install the necessary equipment at the State Ports Authority passenger terminal at Union Pier.

Merrill, R-Charleston, and Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, both serve on the House Ways and Means Committee. They expect their proposal to be included in this year’s budget.

“With this new technology, Charleston will be a national leader in both economic growth and environmental innovation,” Stavrinakis said in a statement. “Shoreside power will ultimately bring more tourism dollars to Charleston while cleaning up our air at the same time.”

Shoreside power has been mentioned as one way to bring together the feuding sides in a long-running dispute about the future of the cruise industry in Charleston.

Merrill said the shoreside power could ease the tensions.

“It definitely should take away one concern that is expressed, and what we want to do is find a solution,” he said. “We see the ports authority’s position of requiring shore power on every ship puts them at an economical disadvantage, and it doesn’t work on all ships, but for those that have it, this gives them the option.”

The SPA applauded the efforts by Merrill and Stavrinakis on Friday, but it stopped short of fully endorsing shoreside power for cruise ships.

“While we understand that shoreside power has been the focus of conversations to date, the industry is also pursuing other more modern technologies that provide equal or greater benefits,” the maritime agency said in a statement. “We anticipate utilizing the industry’s most modern and efficient technologies at the new passenger terminal at Union Pier and applying these proposed funds, if appropriated, to implement these practices.”

Environmentalists and neighborhood groups have complained about pollution in the historic district coming from cruise ships idling their engines at Union Pier. Most complaints target the Carnival Fantasy, which is based in Charleston year round.

On Friday, the groups said they support what the lawmakers are proposing.

“We commend this effort for attempting to address the serious health and environmental effects of cruise ship diesel soot, and hope efforts are made to explore the other means of reducing cruise impacts on the historic peninsula,” said Carrie Agnew, executive director of the Charleston Communities for Cruise Control. “We have always and continue to support shore power at the new terminal, wherever it is ultimately built.”

Dana Beach, executive director of the Coastal Conservation League, said it would be “a huge step forward.”

“We have said consistently that shore-side power is the only way we can completely protect the health of residents from the emissions from cruise ships,” Beach said Friday.

Last year, his Charleston-based group released a study that concluded hooking a cruise ship to shoreside power source would cut toxic emissions by 19 percent to 90 percent, depending on the type of fuel the vessel burns.

The SPA took a close look at shoreside power while planning a new $35 million cruise terminal it wants to open at Union Pier. It concluded it was too costly.

In 2011, the SPA estimated it would have invest $5.6 million to provide shoreside power,. Carnival Cruise Lines would have to spend about another $1.5 million to retrofit the Fantasy, the cruise ship that calls on Charleston most often.

The SPA wants to redevelop a warehouse at the north end of Union Pier to replace its current cruise terminal at the south end of the terminal. The new building could handle larger ships and more passengers.

Lawsuits have stalled those plans.

In addition to shoreside power, groups like Charleston Communities for Cruise Control and the Coastal Conservation League have argued for limits on ship visits and passengers.

Cruise terminal needs public input

Now there’s a thought… Let the public have input on what is done with their dollars on their turf… Should be interesting to see what transpires!

Click here to read the article from Post and Courier

In seeking approval for the State Ports Authority’s plan to convert a rusting shed into a large, new cruise ship terminal on the Cooper River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicated to federal authorities that the project was essentially driving five pilings and doing some maintenance to the existing building.

The argument didn’t stand up in District Court, and now the Corps and the SPA have conceded that they are going to have to apply anew.

This is a good opportunity for them to remove the wraps and show the public as well as the feds that the project will not harm the environment or the health of people who live and work nearby.

Some critics, who are alarmed by the SPA’s refusal to submit to reasonable standards regarding the cruise ship industry here, fear the Corps will try for another shortcut that would bypass public hearings.

That would be a mistake. District Judge Richard Gergel didn’t mince words in his September order. He said the Corps gave the issue “a bum’s rush” and failed to show that it met standards required by the National Environmental Protection Act and the National Health Protection Act.

The Corps should be eager to save face after such an embarrassing rebuke. A good way to do that would be to take the high road – a process that allows the public to ask questions and have input into the SPA project.

Realistically, that conversation would probably be – and should be – broad. It could include how the environment would be affected – perhaps how adding plug-in power to the dock would reduce emissions that threaten people’s health.

But a discussion would also likely touch on how traffic, the historic district, heritage tourism and the economy would be affected when a new cruise ship terminal is complete.

It could include a discussion of the best site for a terminal – both where the SPA wants to it to be and alternative locations, as well.

The process would take time for the SPA to prepare for and execute. And such debates are sure to be contentious. But they could also be immensely helpful.

For one thing, they could help the SPA pursue the best plan possible. Also, an open and frank conversation could restore some of the public trust, which has been shaken by the SPA’s apparent disregard for the public’s concerns.

Regardless of what side of the controversial cruise ship issue they stand on, people should find it unacceptable for public officials to give “a bum’s rush” to issues regarding the health and environment of the area. Those who want to see the terminal built should be confident that the SPA’s case is strong enough to meet permit requirements and gain public support.

And the process should be transparent. It does, after all, involve public money and public land. And the cruise ship business does make a difference to the entire area.

So far, the State Ports Authority has refused to stipulate legally how it will limit the size and number of cruise ships here. Instead, it has asked the public to trust that it will do the right thing.

Until the cruise terminal discussion is open and forthright, that trust is going to be elusive.

Army Corps, SPA withdraw appeal over Charleston cruise terminal permit

By Tyrone Richardson

The Army Corps of Engineers and the State Ports Authority have halted their challenge of a judge’s decision that nixed a permit the SPA needed to build a new cruise terminal in downtown Charleston.

They filed the joint notice of withdrawal of appeal with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., on Monday.

The move came a day before a mediator for the court was scheduled to meet with attorneys representing both sides in the appeal. The case centered on an Army Corps permit for pilings the SPA needs to drive to convert a warehouse into a $35 million passenger terminal at Union Pier.

Blan Holman, managing attorney for the Charleston office of the Southern Environmental Law Center and a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the withdrawal was a victory for the public.

“The government’s lawyers must have realized that a so-called maintenance permit issued in secret to build a $35 million cruise terminal was indefensible,” Holman said in a statement. “Too bad we had to resort to litigation to get here, but the good news is that the public will now have the chance to weigh in on how and where cruise operations should continue in the Charleston region. It’s never too late to get something big right – just look at the Ravenel Bridge.”

In September, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ruled that the Army Corps did not fully review the effects the project would have on the city’s historic district, saying the permitting agency gave the study “a bum’s rush.” He then ordered the Army Corps to redo the study with a more extensive review. The Army Corps will be reviewing what to do next, said spokeswoman Glenn Jeffries.

The SPA said in statement that it will “reserve its legal concerns regarding the district court’s decision for later review, if necessary, following additional action by the Corps.”

“We look forward to the next steps in consultation with the Corps relative to successfully renovating an existing warehouse into a replacement passenger terminal,” according to the statement

The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed the lawsuit after the Army Corps issued a permit allowing the five pilings to be driven on the waterfront.

The opposition groups have said the agency didn’t take into account the impact on historic properties that surround the area.

The SPA, which 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 case is one of three legal challenges regarding expanded cruise operations in Charleston.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 or twitter.com/tyrichardsonPC.

Page 1 of 41234