BREAKING NEWS: Oakland City Council Takes Final Vote, Confirming Coal Ban
Today, the Oakland City Council voted to confirm an ordinance that would ban coal from being handled and stored in the City of Oakland, including a resolution to apply the ordinance to the proposed Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal. With the second vote, following the first vote on June 27, the ban is confirmed.
A portion of the former Oakland Army Base is being developed as a bulk export facility, known as the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT). Opponents of handling coal in Oakland say CCIG, the developer, promised not include coal as a commodity handled by the terminal. Later, they say, the developer solicited a partnership with the county governments in Utah to subsidize the project and allow Utah mines to export 10 million tons of coal each year.
A Utah funding body approved $53 million to buy space at Oakland Bulk Terminal for these exports. Opponents further say that this deal was conducted behind the backs of the Oakland City Council and the Port of Oakland, both of which oppose coal as a commodity for shipping in Oakland.
The developer has said that the terminal is being developed as a multi-commodity facility and that it was approved on that basis by local authorities.
Community members and advocacy groups have voiced concerns over how operating a facility that handles coal will affect the community’s health, safety, and the environment. They point to studies that indicate that each open-top rail car of coal can lose up to one ton of dust between the mines and the port, resulting in the release of 60,000 pounds of toxic fine particulate matter in communities near the rails. They also say that handling coal in the port of Oakland would compromise the State of California’s commitment to cutting carbon pollution.
“The transport and handling of coal in Oakland would have endangered local communities and polluted San Francisco Bay,” said Erica Maharg, staff attorney at San Francisco Baykeeper, an environmental group. “We applaud the City Council for taking such strong action to adopt a ban that will protect residents, workers, and our shoreline from the negative impacts of coal.”
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