ST. BERNARD PARISH, La. (WGNO) — A lawsuit has been filed against Port NOLA on behalf of the St. Bernard Parish Government to prevent the operation of the facility outside of their jurisdiction.

According to documents, the lawsuit states that under Louisiana law, Port NOLA does not have legal jurisdiction to operate a shipping facility within the borders of St. Bernard Parish. Also, any Cooperative Endeavor Agreements to allow operations have been deemed null and void.

The parish’s District Attorney’s Office further lays out the legislative process created by the St. Bernard Port Authority.

Additionally, the suit states that in 1992, legislation stripped the Port NOLA of all its jurisdiction in St. Bernard Parish. The decision was made clear that the St. Bernard Port, a political subdivision, has exclusive jurisdiction to operate within the borders.

The lawsuit further mentions that state law prohibits a political subdivision from contractually divesting itself of jurisdiction.

The questionable circumstances are reportedly cause for concern surrounding the December of 2022 Cooperative Endeavor Agreement where the St. Bernard Port Commissioners agreed to allow Port NOLA to exclusively operate a port facility here in St. Bernard Parish.

The Save Our St. Bernard took to Facebook to address the ongoing lawsuit:

“We commend District Attorney Perry Nicosia for filing the lawsuit on behalf of St. Bernard Parish Government. We have been fighting this battle for several years on behalf of thousands of residents of our parish. We are doing everything possible to prevent the destruction and devastation that will come to pass if the Port of New Orleans is not stopped. As chief law enforcement official in in the Parish , the District Attorney recognizes the urgency of enforcing the law and preventing the Port’s illegal actions from destroying our parish. We have long alleged the illegality of the Port of New Orleans’ actions in St. Bernard Parrish and support the District Attorney’ s lawsuit which will bolster our legal action.”

Save Our St. Bernard, Nonprofit organization

The lawsuit is ultimately requesting that the CEA be declared null and void under state law and that the St. Bernard Port cannot contractually divest itself.

Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy D. Christian released a statement on the recent lawsuit:

“We were made aware of the lawsuit this morning and will review and respond in due course. However, a challenge to the Port of New Orleans’ jurisdiction to operate a marine terminal in St. Bernard Parish is preposterous.

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.

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.

It has been made clear that the development of the project is a priority for the State of Louisiana, evidenced by vocal support from the highest levels of state government, including millions of dollars of state funding as well as an $800 million commitment from private global industry leaders in support of this project. The Port of New Orleans has made significant progress toward the design and development of the $1.8 billion Louisiana International Terminal in the community of Violet, including the land purchase, extensive community engagement and adjacent infrastructure investments through a transparent permitting process.

The design of the new terminal has incorporated extensive public feedback from the community and St. Bernard public officials. And, we remain committed to working with local stakeholders every step of the way.”

Port NOLA President and CEO Brandy D. Christian

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