Opponents rally in Oakland, California, over coal export plans

The Sierra Club said July 21 that on that day, people from various environmental groups, including West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project and the Sunflower Alliance, rallied in front of the Oakland, Calif., City Hall calling for an end to all talks related to exporting Utah coal out of Oakland’s forthcoming bulk terminal, known as the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT).

California Capital Investment Group (CCIG), the developer of the bulk export facility, solicited a $53 million investment from four Utah counties with the promise of exporting up to 5 million tons of their coal out of the facility’s at least 10-million-ton capacity each year, the club noted. The club charged that this deal is being conducted behind the backs of the Oakland City Council and the Port, both of which rejected the transportation of coal through the Bay Area for export out of Oakland. Additionally, the developer promised residents that the city-owned port would be coal free. While the Mayor, members of the council and residents have demanded a stop to these talks, the developer has yet to abandon the plans, the club said.

Those opposing the plan to export coal through Oakland have voiced concerns over how this decision will affect the community’s safety, the environment, and public health. Transporting the coal via rail car to the port will increase train traffic and pollution in an area already overburdened by bad air, the club claimed.  

Jess Dervin-Ackerman, Conservation Manager with the Sierra Club’s Bay Chapter, said: “We support the Army Base Redevelopment project because it will bring jobs and economic growth to our communities. Residents do not, however, want their neighborhoods to be a gateway to sending dirty, dangerous coal to other communities when there are many other commodities that can be shipped instead. We have started to see the negative impacts  of climate disruption, and know that sending our carbon elsewhere will only make our drought worse and fire season more dangerous here at home.”

Margaret Gordon, Co-Founder of West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, said: “When City Council Oakland made plans to boost our economy for the public benefit, then public health and safety must be a primary factor in these decisions. For all the citizens of Oakland, we hope that our public officials stand by this policy and put an end to this dirty, backroom deal.”

Reports are that the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund Board earlier this year approved funding that would allow four counties in the state to acquire an interest in this project. The counties are the sites for coal production.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.