The U.S. Department of Justice this week abandoned its appeal of a 2013 court order that set aside a permit for a proposed cruise terminal in Charleston, South Carolina, issued without public process or study of environmental impacts or alternatives.
Last September, a United States District Court Judge ruled that a federal permit for the proposed terminal was unlawful because officials at the Corps of Engineers had looked only at pilings underneath the proposed terminal rather than impacts from the terminal itself or operations there.
The Department of Justice appealed that ruling on behalf of the Corps in November of last year, but earlier this week filed papers dismissing the appeal.
Lawyers representing citizens who had appealed what they said was an illegal Corps permit issued without any public input welcomed the dismissal.
Blan Holman, of the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charleston, said that government lawyers must have realized that the so-called maintenance permit issued with no public notice for a $35 million cruise terminal was legally indefensible.
“It’s a shame that we had to resort to litigation to get public review, but the good news is that the public now will have the chance to weigh in on how and where cruise operations should continue in the Charleston region,” he said.
The matter now goes back to the Corps of Engineers for renewed consideration of the S.C. State Ports Authority’s proposal.
As currently envisioned, the terminal would be built in downtown Charleston’s historic district, where cruise ships over 100 feet tall tower over three story colonial era buildings and church steeples.
Press Release, January 9, 2014