The Utah Attorney General is considering whether a $53 million public loan to finance construction of a private coal export terminal in Oakland is legal, theExpress has learned.
The loan would be made by a special Utah state agency, the Permanent Community Impact Fund Board (CIB), to four Utah Counties — Sanpete, Sevier, Carbon and Emery. The counties would then use the funds to help build a marine terminal in Oakland. In exchange, they would receive preferential access to the facility, mainly to ship coal extracted from mines in central Utah. But the CIB was set up to provide grants and loans to local Utah governments in an effort to mitigate the negative impacts of fossil fuel extraction in the state. Critics of the proposed $53 million loan believe that the CIB is betraying its purpose, and breaking the law, by financing private companies that hope to expand fossil fuel extraction.
See also: Banking on Coal in Oakland
See also: Coal Attorneys Investigate Oakland City Council
“You can’t finance economic development projects with CIB money,” said Christina Sloan, a Moab, Utah attorney representing several environmental and community groups that object to using the agency’s funds for fossil fuel projects. Sloan said the $53 million CIB loan would primarily benefit a private coal company, not the public.
When the CIB authorized the loan last April, they made it contingent on a review by the Utah Attorney General, according to meeting minutes. Nic Dunn, a spokesman with the Utah Department of Workforce Services, which oversees the CIB, confirmed this fact in an email to the Express, writing that that the $53 million loan “is pending the completion of a legal review by the Attorney General's office.”
In an October 22 letter to the Utah Attorney General, Sloan wrote: “[T]he diversion of tens of millions of dollars to private major infrastructure, especially when such infrastructure is out-of-state, harms my Clients by depriving them of essential public services that should otherwise be grant funded by the CIB.”
According to Sloan, the CIB’s grant-making powers are defined by the federal Mineral Leasing Act and the Utah Community Impact Alleviation Act — laws that require a portion of royalties paid on mineral leases, primarily by oil, gas and coal mining companies, be used to build roads, schools, hospitals sewers, and other “public facilities and services.”
The primary beneficiary of the $53 million loan to build a coal export terminal in Oakland would be the Kentucky-based coal company Bowie Resource Partners, which two years ago bought three large coal mines in the same central Utah counties seeking the CIB loan. Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, which loaned $470 million to Bowie to buy the Utah mines, would also earn millions from a coal export terminal in Oakland. And Jeffrey Holt, the chair of Utah’s Transportation Commission, who is also an investment banker with the Bank of Montreal, would earn potentially millions by helping to finance construction of a railroad that would connect Bowie’s largest mine, the Sufco, to rail lines with access to Oakland.
Utah state Senator Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, is an opponent of using CIB funds to expand the fossil fuel industry. Dabakis thinks it is a big gamble that will harm rural Utah communities. “It reminds me of the Music Man, borrowing all this money to help a guy a thousand miles away build this coal terminal,” said Dabakis, referring to the Broadway musical in which a con man convinces a small town to buy something they can’t afford before skipping town. “This is a lot of money, and if little Sanpete county with its ten thousand residents can’t pay back the millions and millions, they’d have to raise taxes to an astonishing degree,” said Dabakis, “or more likely the debt would pass back on to the state.”
Dabakis said the purpose of CIB money is to offset the negative impact of the fossil fuel industry’s booms and busts, not to reinvest in the industry.
“This loan would take away money that should be used to make the transition away from fossil fuels, rather than double down on them,” said Dabakis. “We need to invest in the industries that will be here in twenty years, rather than these old Nineteenth Century industries.”
The Utah Attorney General’s Office did not reply to a phone call and emails seeking comment for this report.
Posted on October 26, 2015 by Maximilian Auffhammer
The view from my window high up in the ivory tower is spectacular. Through my open window I breathe in the unpolluted air of knowledge and bask in the glow of theory. Recently I climbed down to attend a hearing at Oakland’s city council about the possible construction of a coal export terminal right here smack dab in the heart of the most liberal metropolis in North America.
Here’s what’s happening. A developer proposed a plan for a new export terminal on an old army base next to Oakland harbor. This is good news. Export terminals lead to lots of jobs and ancillary economic activity. West Oakland is a relatively low-income community with high rates of unemployment. I was excited when I heard about this initially. Recently, however, the proposal was modified to allow for the annual shipment of 4 to 5 million tons of Utah coal abroad, which amounts to roughly a 10% increase in US exports. Why should we care about what gets shipped through a terminal? Well, let me count the ways.
At this hearing, some very fancy lawyers testified that we should not worry about any local negative health consequences from this shift. I am not so sure. We could envision coal dust escaping from the rail cars would end up in kids’ lungs – no matter how covered the cars are. Plus, I would imagine that the ships and trains themselves would lead to increases in local air pollution. Ships are one of the main sources of air pollution in the Bay Area. And, ships that bring coal abroad are not the same high quality shiny new ships we use to bring containers and cars from here to there and back.
More globally, we (finally) have serious regulation at the federal level that address the negative externalities from climate change. Most significantly, the Clean Power Plan will lead to a significant decrease in demand for US coal. Coal, as even my seven year old knows, is the main culprit when talking about greenhouse gas emissions. This is of course bad news for the producers of coal. If demand shifts in, price drops and you sell less at a lower price. Unless you find new markets for your coal, this carbon stays in the ground. Which is the point of climate policy. Period. Well, if you get a shiny new export terminal and can ship coal abroad, that sort of fixes things for you as you now have access to a new market and the coal, whose combustion results in increased emissions of a global pollutant, gets burned anyway.
Countries throughout Asia are burning coal like it’s free (and in some cases it sort of is). Getting more coal of higher quality from the US is a great thing from the Chinese perspective. But from a global perspective it likely is a loser. Here is why I think so:
But where is the state? I would assume that Governor Brown, who has pushed hard for climate regulation and has even talked to the Pope about the issue, would be his usual vocal self in this case. He also has a war chest to come step in. Yes. I am talking about cap and trade revenue. We are currently using some of the early revenue to build a high-speed train project, which will initially connect the Metropolis of Merced with Bakersfield. There are the delta tunnels too. What we should do with cap and trade revenue is many things, but helping communities who are disadvantaged by climate policy is certainly one of them. This assistance could be in the form of job training programs or other job creating initiatives targeted at people disadvantaged by the veto of such a terminal.
At the very least it’s time for a strong signal from Sacramento against new construction of carbon export terminals in California. The existing ones might have some spare capacity, but building new ones undermines California’s environmental legacy and global climate leadership role.
Tim Ballew II 10/20/15
The Lummi Nation has faced an uphill battle in our efforts to protect our fishing area at Xwe'chi'cXen, Cherry Point, from a coal terminal. We’ve faced many obstacles and opponents in an ongoing fight to protect this sacred site from harmful development. Now, we’re working to stop Congress from taking actions that could have devastating impacts on not just Lummi, but tribes across the nation.
SSA Marine wants to build North America’s largest coal terminal within Lummi fishing waters. If the terminal is built, huge ships—vessels too large to pass through the Panama Canal—would cross the Salish Sea through the treaty-protected fishing grounds of Lummi and several other treaty fishing tribes.
In late August, the Lummi Nation submitted our final response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps). Years of extensive research have shown that there is no way to mitigate the impact of a coal terminal in Lummi fishing waters. SSA Marine’s own studies even admit that the terminal would result in 3.7 billion gallons of polluted water discharged from ships in the area. Pollution and a big increase in vessel traffic would be devastating to our ability to fish and would violate our treaty.
When the Corps evaluates permit requests for projects like the Gateway Pacific terminal, it has to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to ensure there’s no significant damage to the environment. They’re also required to conduct an independent analysis to protect tribal treaty rights. The Corps can then deny a permit based on whether a project violates treaty rights. Now some members of Congress want to change the game.
Under pressure from SSA Marine, Senator Steve Daines (R-Montana) and Representative Ryan Zinke (R-Montana) want to prohibit the Corps from making a determination about the permit for the Gateway Pacific Terminal based on a review of the project’s impact on Lummi’s treaty rights.
If the terminal is built, Montana coal can be shipped to China. So Senator Daines and Representative Zinke, along with 31 of their colleagues in the House and Senate, are urging the Corps to degrade treaty protections. In a letter sent to the head of the Corps, they complained about the treaty rights review of the Gateway Pacific project and suggested that treaty rights didn’t deserve review or respect from the agency.
Senator Daines is a member of the Senate Indian Affairs committee, yet he has coordinated this effort to erode treaty rights to the benefit of a corporation that has shown it’s willing to ignore the rules. SSA Marine conducted invasive testing at Cherry Point and carried out the unauthorized excavation of burial sites in Lummi’s sacred area. The rights of all tribes are under fire from some members of Congress who are putting the interests of a corporation with questionable business practices before their duty to honor our treaties.
Tribes across the United States should be on high alert as Congress tries to chip away at our treaty protections. If Congress prevents the Corps from independently reviewing and honoring Lummi’s treaty rights, it could create a precedent that would force other tribes to go through an unnecessary environmental review process.
Certain members of Congress want to change federal law to undermine treaty rights.Lummi Nation will be reaching out to tribes across the nation for support.We must send legislators in our states, and the chairmen of the Indian Affairs Committees, a clear message that we’re watching and will defend the treaties our past leaders fought and died for.
Tim Ballew II is the chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council.
Read more athttp://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/10/20/congressional-threat-treaty-rights
Environmental groups take aim at a rail project to ship coal through the city
By ALEJANDRO LAZO
Oct. 18, 2015 7:54 p.m. ET
OAKLAND, Calif.—A proposal that could make this city a gateway for Utah coal to be shipped overseas has become a political flash point and put pressure on Gov. Jerry Brown, a former mayor known for his warnings on climate change, to come out against the project.
The proposed deal would grant four coal-producing counties in Utah rail access to a major commodities shipping terminal under development on city land, adjacent to the Port of Oakland, in exchange for a $53 million investment. City officials hope the redevelopment plan, on an old Army base, would bring thousands of jobs to a city that still has pockets of poverty and violence even as the region’s tech sector booms and housing costs rise.
California ports in Stockton, Richmond and Long Beach export coal, but because of climate change and pollution concerns, such terminals have become highly contested on the West Coast. Environmentalists, who have defeated similar proposals in Oregon and Washington, have filed suit against the city, the project and developers. They are now calling on Mr. Brown, a Democrat, to speak out forcefully against coal being shipped through his former city.
“We are hopeful that he won’t let his hometown of Oakland become a thoroughfare for dirty coal,” said Jessica Dervin-Ackerman, conservation manager with the local chapter of the Sierra Club.
Mr. Brown declined to comment on the Oakland terminal. While he has sounded an alarm on climate change—recently telling a Vatican symposium that 90% of the world’s coal must remain unused to evade the perils of global warming—as governor he has angered environmentalists by allowing the expansion of hydraulic fracturing in the state.
The master developer of the project is Phillip Tagami, a local businessman with close ties to Mr. Brown, who is credited with sparking a revitalization of the city’s downtown when he served as mayor from 1999 to 2007. Mr. Brown is an investor with Mr. Tagami in an Oakland office building, according to an economic disclosure form filed by the governor. During Mr. Brown’s gubernatorial administration, Mr. Tagami served as chairman of the state’s Lottery Commission and as a member of its Medical Board; he left the administration in 2013.
The terminal, which would sit at the end of an existing track network, would be managed by Terminal Logistics Solutions, a company that is looking to partner with the Utah counties to export commodities including coal. “It is important to realize that this is an opportunity for Oakland,” Jerry Bridges, the company’s chief executive, told City Council members last month.
Mr. Tagami said he has spoken with Mr. Brown about the project, assuring him the terminal was designed to accept a wide variety of goods and has passed all necessary environmental reviews. The project, dubbed Oakland Global, is expected to bring in as much as $2.9 million in annual property taxes for the city, schools and other local governments, and has already created more than 2,300 jobs, he said.
“This is a local issue, and I think he respects it as that,” Mr. Tagami said.
Utah backers say the state’s coal burns more efficiently and has a lower sulfur content than coal from elsewhere, though experts say it doesn’t necessarily emit less carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas produced by industry.
The state has sought new markets for its coal as energy companies and utilities in the U.S. have moved toward natural-gas plants and renewable forms of energy due to stricter federal pollution rules. While coal mining represents a fraction of Utah’s economy, it has long been a source of jobs for counties in the central and southeastern part of the state. Statewide production of coal last year was near a 30-year low amid lower demand from Nevada and California. The Oakland terminal would give the Utah counties four million to five million tons of annual shipping capacity and access to overseas markets including Asia, where coal is in greater demand than in the U.S.
At an estimated 17.2 million short tons, Utah coal production was up 1.5% in 2014 from the year before, but nowhere near the 24.5 million tons averaged during the past decade. The state’s coal producing counties are seeking ways to sell their coal out of state and to overseas markets, but doing so requires new infrastructure, said Arnold Reitze, a professor at the College Of Law at the University of Utah.
“This is what I call ultraclean coal, and it has a place in the world markets,” said Jae Potter, a commissioner in Utah’s Carbon County. “It has a place in developing countries.”
But the idea of coal being shipped through Oakland has roiled politics in the city of about 414,000. Among those concerned is Mayor Libby Schaaf, a former aide to Mr. Brown when he was mayor. “We will not have coal shipped through our city,” Ms. Schaaf wrote to Mr. Tagami in an email that was made public.
Oakland’s City Council, which held a contentious hearing on the issue last month, is considering an ordinance to ban coal at the terminal. The Sierra Club argues coal dust has been linked to decreased lung capacity, childhood bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, emphysema and heart disease. Mr. Bridges, of Terminal Logistics, told council members that any coal shipped through the city would be in covered trains, eliminating the risk of coal dust.
Mr. Tagami said no restrictions should be imposed on which commodities the terminal can export and that doing so could harm the project’s success.
Write to Alejandro Lazo at firstname.lastname@example.org
COAL’S SLOW BURN The promised Oct. 20 update on the lengthy list of questions and comments posed by residents will likely include something to effect of “We’re working on it.” Recall, nearly 700 speaker cards were turned in for the Sept. 21 special Oakland City Council meeting on the proposed transport of coal through the currently under construction large bulk terminal at the former Oakland Army Base. The City Administrator’s Office boiled down the queries to 18 questions. A city staff report, however, suggests it won’t have any definitive answers on the legality and potential steps to stop coal traveling through Oakland until the end of the year. That’s about right, since the council direction last month was to begin steps toward a potential prohibition of coal, if desired, by the first week of December.
Subject: Status Report Re Public Hearing On Coal’s Health & Safety Impacts From: Office Of The City Administrator Recommnedation: Receive An Informational Report As A Follow Up To The September 21, 2015 Hearing On Coal's Public Health And Safety Impact
Shashank Bengali Contact Reporter
A giant power plant set atop what was once a virgin forest churns with coal from a nearby mine, a roaring example of India's aspirations to best China's economic growth and light the homes of its poorest people.
Yet the privately run Sasan power project — backed by hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. government funding — has also generated land disputes, health and environmental concerns and financial hardship for villagers who say it has delivered little of what was promised.
As India tries to bring electricity to 300 million people who lack it, it is defying international calls for reducing climate-changing fuel emissions and instead heavily expanding investments in coal, often with huge costs for rural people living in the path of the inexpensive fossil fuel.
In the village of Amlohri two miles west of the Sasan plant, a mountain of rocky mining waste dumped by Reliance Power, the plant developer, surrounds a cluster of mud-and-brick dwellings, their tin roofs reflecting a blinding sun.
Winds often scatter coal dust and fine rock over crops and into wells that store drinking water. Monsoon rains wash the soil down into the village and into homes whose walls have cracked, activists say, because of blasting from the mine.
"Big trees were crushed under the rock," said Ramji Basor, one of several farmers who live in the shadow of the power plant about 375 miles southeast of New Delhi. "We found dirt and dust on everything."
The stories told by Basor and his neighbors illustrate how not all Indians have benefited as coal propels their country in its bid to be the world's fastest growing major economy. India expects to double its coal production over the next five years to 1 billion tons annually.
The Sasan project was touted as a win-win for both investors and residents, promising cheap electrical power and new housing and schools built by Reliance Power.
But interviews with dozens of residents and officials in Sasan, and a review of public records detailing the locals' fight with the power plant, show that the company has failed to meet Indian standards for environmental protection.
Its efforts to compensate villagers uprooted by the project have driven many deeper into poverty, partly because of India's flawed policies on resettling landowners, activists say.
Assessments in 2012 by the Pollution Control Board of the central state of Madhya Pradesh, and in 2014 by the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, determined that the company's mining waste was illegally overflowing into forests and farmland and that the company had failed to meet obligations to restore green space lost to construction.
The ministry also found that coal dust, which contains metals that can be toxic, had fallen into fields next to the mines. In August, a committee of experts reported to the National Green Tribunal, a court that hears environmental cases, that groundwater in the village of Harrahawa, next to the power plant, had high levels of mercury, which can cause birth defects and impair the nervous system.
The report did not identify a source for the contamination. Environmental experts say it is almost certainly linked to Sasan and several other major power plants in the area.
Indian regulators are notoriously toothless, however, and Reliance Power's plant and mines have continued to function.
It is a decades-old story in central India's coal-rich Singrauli district, recently labeled one of the country's most polluted areas, where residents and activists have long complained that abuses by energy companies go unpunished.
"Each and every company is violating environmental norms, including Sasan," said Ashwani Kumar Dubey, a Singrauli resident and lawyer who has challenged the coal industry in India's Supreme Court. "But nothing happens because these companies run the economy of the country."
Reliance Power officials declined to answer questions about Sasan but said the company has supplied much-needed electricity and complied with all Indian social and environmental standards.
The controversy has spread to the U.S. because of Sasan's American backer, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, a federal agency that finances the sale of U.S. products overseas. The bank lent Reliance Power $650 million beginning in 2013 to buy mining equipment from a supplier in Wisconsin, a loan that amounts to about 15% of the project's $4.3-billion total cost.
The bank lost its congressional authorization June 30, after opposition from conservative Republicans who call its loans "corporate welfare," but its funding for Sasan is not affected.
Advocacy groups say that even as the Obama administration seeks a worldwide agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at a climate summit in Paris in December, Export-Import Bank has financed overseas coal power plants that emit huge quantities of climate-warming carbon.
When Reliance Power was awarded the rights to the project several years ago, residents — including farmers and tribal people who eke out a premodern living from the forest — were swayed by the company's promises of jobs, cheaper electricity, new housing and other amenities, and signed over their land. But nearly all the jobs were temporary, ending when plant construction was completed.
Basor, a slender man whose eyes narrow in the bright sun, is one of about two dozen Baiga tribal people living in the shadow of what has become a giant Reliance Power dump site. The 5-acre plot that sustained his family has become infertile. A gray patina of coal dust coats his crops; the nearby Rihand reservoir, whose water he used for irrigation, is fouled by coal ash and industrial effluent, according to government studies.
Basor's eldest son, Suresh, got a job as a welder at one of the mines. But he felt the growing pressure of supporting his parents and four siblings as the farm struggled, his father said.
One morning in April 2013, the wiry 18-year-old with shaggy dark hair was found lying in the dirt at the mine's entrance. A hospital report said he had ingested poison. Authorities called it a suicide.
The company has offered Basor about $26,000 to vacate his land and get away from the potential pollution. But he said the amount isn't enough to buy a new home in an area where land prices have soared.
"Everything depends on this farm," Basor said. "If I sell to Reliance, how will I find another job?"
Kamala Prasad Panika, a silver-haired villager in his 40s, refused to sell his home for what he called unfair compensation. So Reliance Power built around him, swallowing his home, which now sits within the walls of the sprawling compound dominated by twin red-and-white smokestacks.
The school his two sons attended was demolished to make way for a coal ash dump, and students were shifted to a new facility Reliance Power established at Surya Vihar, a resettlement colony it built 10 miles away. In June, administrators wrote to Panika saying that because he was not technically "resettled," his sons — sixth-grader Arjun and fourth-grader Mukesh — could not attend the school.
"The next week," Panika said, "they were kicked out of their classes."
Reliance Power describes Surya Vihar as part of "one of the most robust community development and corporate social responsibility initiatives by a power plant" in India. But only a few dozen of the colony's 376 small concrete houses are occupied. Villagers say the plots are far from jobs and too small for farming, the way their families have earned a living for generations.
Many choose to live instead in makeshift dwellings closer to their former land, leaving Surya Vihar a ghost town. Weeds and thick brush encircle the vacant houses, where cows stand tethered to window frames with missing glass.
"There is no way people here can make a living, not in the way they used to, and not in any other way, because they are so isolated," said Awadhesh Kumar, a longtime local activist. "The resettlement policy means destitution forever."
Reliance Power says that under state and federal laws, local authorities bear ultimate responsibility for resettling people affected by industrial projects.
So far, Sasan's economic benefits are unclear.
Reliance Power won the Sasan bid by agreeing to sell power to seven states initially for less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour. In May, the All India Power Engineers Federation accused the company of deliberately suppressing Sasan's electricity output in order to divert coal to its other plants, where it can sell power at a much higher rate.
The group said Sasan's low production had forced states to buy electricity from other suppliers, costing them nearly $500 million.
Activists say Export-Import Bank should have known from the start that there was potential for abuses at Sasan.
"We have been fighting against the practices of Indian companies for years," Kumar said. "We didn't think we would have to fight a U.S. bank too."
By Mariela Patron
The Sierra Club, a nationwide environmental organization, and three petitioners represented by Earthjustice, a non-profit law organization focused on environmental issues, have filed a lawsuit against the City of Oakland demanding it conduct an additional environmental review for the Oakland Bulk and Oversize Terminal. The new shipping terminal will be located at the old Army base in West Oakland may be used to ship coal through the city.
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court aims “to hold the city to its duties to do more environmental review to the goal of informing the community of what will happen to their health,” said Irene Gutierrez, Earthjustice assistant attorney. The other petitioners represented by her group are the organizations Communities for a Better Environment, San Francisco Baykeeper and Asian Pacific Environmental Network.
In 2002, an Environmental Impact Report was made for early redevelopment plans of the area, and an addendum was made in 2012 to assess changes in the initial redevelopment plan. The city entered a lease and development agreement with California Capital and Investment Group (CCIG) in 2012. The agreement leased parts of the Army base to CCIG for redevelopment. CCIG subleased to Terminal Logistics Solutions the rights to develop the Oakland Bulk and Oversize Terminal, which will transport bulk commodities from railroads to cargo ships.
Earlier this year, four Utah counties confirmed they invested in the terminal. The counties are set to transport coal to Oakland by train and from there to Asia. In exchange for funding, the counties are entitled to use 49 percent of the facility, Gutierrez said. “This would be California’s largest coal terminal if it gets built,” Gutierrez said. “The effects will be correspondently greater in the community.”
But Gutierrez said past environmental reviews of the redevelopment project did not take coal into account. On September 21, at a public hearing at Oakland City Hall, former Mayor Jean Quan said Phil Tagami, president of CCIG, never disclosed that coal would come through the facility. Environmental reviews were therefore affected by not taking this information into account, Quan said at the hearing.
The lawsuit makes a similar claim: “In a December 2013 Oakland Global newsletter published by the developers, Phil Tagami expressly stated that ‘CCIG is publicly on record as having no interest or involvement in the pursuit of coal-related operations at the former Oakland Army Base.’” The lawsuit states that under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), additional environmental impact reports are required if there are big enough changes to the original project.
David Smith, partner at Stice and Block, which acts as legal counsel for CCIG, said via email that the developer is aware of the lawsuit, but at the time has no further comment on it.
Alastair Iles, assistant professor of environmental science, policy, and management at UC Berkeley, said that if changes to the project have the potential to significantly affect the environment, an additional environmental review is required. “I would say that opponents have a good legal case to get the City of Oakland to order a new CEQA process,” Iles said.
The conclusion of a new environmental review with coal taken into account would be different than previous ones, Iles said. A new review would raise questions about pollution along the coal’s route to Oakland and in the area surrounding of the terminal, as well as the effects on climate change that could be caused by the coal exported overseas being burned in power plants, he said.
“CEQA can be a powerful tool for environmental planning, but so much depends on the willingness of Californian government agencies to enforce it properly and to take the resulting findings seriously,” Iles said.
The suit’s petitioners said the Oakland community has the right to know the effects of coal, and a new environmental report will help achieve that. Roger Lin, staff attorney for Communities for a Better Environment, said people living in West and East Oakland would be the most affected by coal dust coming from trains carrying the commodity through the city. “The asthma rates are through the roof compared to the rest of the county,” Lin said. “To not have any review of the impacts of coal on these two populations is very worrying.”
Alex Katz, chief of staff for the Oakland City Attorney’s Office, said the office cannot comment on pending lawsuits. Councilmember Dan Kalb (District 1) also he said he cannot comment on pending lawsuits.
The Oakland City Council will give a status report on any new findings regarding the health and safety effects of coal on October 20 during the city council meeting. Councilmembers have until December 8 to decide if they will allow the transportation of coal.
“If the city does the right thing and does the environmental review that we ask for, then obviously there would be no need for the lawsuit,” Lin said.
My Word arguing for coal shipments through Oakland presents a persuasive argument in favor of a new, state-of-the-art, shipping terminal in the old U.S. Army base. It argues that the project will create 11,970 jobs and revitalize the area. The essay states that the plan is for 15,000 commodities to be legally shipped from Oakland to ports around the world.
As an Oakland voter and thinking person, there is only one commodity that I protest. That commodity is coal. It doesn't matter whether coal is burned in Utah, elsewhere in the interior west, or overseas. Burning the coal will put carbon into our atmosphere. We need to reduce the carbon released into our atmosphere by human activity. It does not matter if we are in the United States, Canada or anywhere else in the world.
If 15,000 commodities will be shipped out of the new Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal at the old Oakland Army Base, then I support the shipment of 14,999 of those commodities. The project will help to counter the gentrification of West Oakland. But coal must be left in the ground. There are multiple other options for producing the energy that human society needs.