Oakland City Council hears from critics of port project that would handle coal

On Sept. 21, the Oakland City Council held a public hearing on coal and petroleum coke handling in Oakland for loading to ship for the export market.

The discussion focused on the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, which is a multi-commodity, bulk marine terminal and one component of the Oakland Global Trade and Logistics Center (Oakland Global). More than 150 Oakland residents attended to support the project, highlight the positive economic impact it will have on Oakland and Oakland residents, and tell the City Council that all commodities will be shipped safely and responsibility without impacting the environment, said Oakland Global in a Sept. 23 statement.

“We are generally pleased with the outcome of Monday night’s hearing, but remain puzzled why the hearing was called at all,” said Jerry Bridges, CEO of Terminal Logistics Solution, the company exploring the option of building and operating the bulk terminal. “We demonstrated to the City Council that West Oaklanders and Oakland in general cares about and supports our efforts. We had over 100 union labor representatives who are working on the project show up to defend their economic futures, as well as concerned citizens and members of the clergy representing the most vulnerable citizens of West Oakland. We had coal, rail and legal experts refute the outlandish claims of the opposition. This demonstrated to the Council that we’re not talking about a theoretical project somewhere else; we are talking about and determining the very real impacts any actions by the City Council will have on this project, and one of the most depressed areas of this city.”

“It is important to keep in mind that nothing about this project has changed,” added Phil Tagami, president and CEO of California Capital & Investment Group, the master developer of the project. “We are not building a coal terminal. We are building a multi-commodity, bulk terminal. That is what the City approved, vested, and permitted in 2012 and 2013. Reports claiming anything to the contrary are simply not true. We look forward to clarifying this issue, yet again, with the City Council in the weeks to come, and moving this historic public-private partnership with the City of Oakland forward.”   

Tagami also said: “However, every week of delay in this project affects the future of real jobs as well as the economic viability of the entire development. If outside groups question one commodity today, how can our investors and employees know that in the years to come another commodity won’t fall out of favor, and also be targeted and maligned? This project is expected to create 11,970 jobs and $300 million annually in regional employment income. At least half of construction hours and hires for ongoing operations will be allocated for Oakland residents, with a hiring prioritization on West Oakland residents. We call on the City Council to honor its commitment to the citizens of Oakland and to this project.”

In 1999, the federal government decommissioned the Oakland Army Base. The plan now is to turn the base into a world-class hub and international gateway for transporting goods by seaport, railroad and roadway.This new state-of-the-art facility will be known as the Oakland Global Trade and Logistics Center, or “Oakland Global.” Oakland Global is the result of more than eight years of collaboration amongst the City of Oakland, the Port of Oakland and California Capital & Investment Group and is expected to be completed in several phases over the next decade.

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.