Oakland votes for no coal

Back to Article
Back to Article

Oakland votes for no coal

Graphic by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Graphic by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Graphic by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Sean McCarthy,

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

The Oakland City Council voted 7-0 against an initiative that would allow coal transportation through the city at a special meeting on June 27.

The proposal would have overturned an ordinance that blocks the storage and handling of bulk amounts of coal within the city, according to a City Hall public hearing notice.

Oakland would have become the largest distributor of coal on the entire west coast of the United States if the resolution had passed, according to activist Steve Masover of No Coal in Oakland, an organization on stopping the transportation of coal in Oakland.

The Public Health Advisory Panel on Coal in Oakland released a report on June 14, stating that coal trains significantly increase concentrations of fine particulate matter in the community through coal dust and diesel exhausts. Particulate matter at this level is definitively associated with premature death, lung cancer, heart disease and asthma attacks, states the report.

It also states that there is no safe way to transport coal because coal covers are all experimental and have not been demonstrated to be reliable in the field.

“There are no health and safety impacts from the transportation of coal,” said California Capital & Investment Group partner Mark McClure in an Op-Ed that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle in March. “Coal is not a hazardous material.”

The World Health Organization determined that there is no clear and safe level of particulate matter exposure, and in May, the United States Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for the transportation of coal 90 miles north of Seattle, stated Thomas Fuller of the New York Times.

President Barack Obama has been fighting global emissions for years through implementation of clean energy sources like wind and solar, and the Clean Power Plan. The CPP called for the reduction of greenhouse gases by 33 percent by 2030 from all states in the union, according to an article in Forbes Magazine. States would have been required to draft a proposal and submit it to the federal government, which would determine if each proposal was substantial or not. The federal government had the right to draft its own plan for a state if it failed to cut the sufficient amount of emissions.

On Feb. 9, around 27 companies and oil haven states like Texas managed to shelve the plan until a future vote the following year could decide the CPP’s future, according to Forbes. The CPP would force these companies to adhere to more stringent policies on the handling of fossil fuels.

The fight against fossil fuels has begun at the local level. CCIG leased the Oakland Army Base in 2012 with the duration of 66 years.

The original plan in the redevelopment of 130 acres of the former Oakland Army Base were conceived and approved by the City Council July 3, 2012, according to the City of Oakland webpage. This plan would theoretically give Oakland residents access to more jobs and bring tax dollars to the city.

The base has the capability to store large amounts of raw material which is transported in by train and shipped out of the docks, said Oakland Assistant City Administrator Claudia Cappio at the meeting. However, CCIG did not mention that they would be transporting large amounts of coal through the Oakland port.

“Although several informal representations were made by the developer, that coal or other hazardous fossil fuels were not being planned to be transported to this bulk cargo facility,” Cappio continued.

As of now, the transportation of coal is banned in Oakland and CCIG needs to figure out what it will do with the leased land. A lawsuit is expected to come in the nearing months from CCIG, according to Rory Carroll of Reuters news agency.

CCIG declined to reply to any questions during this period.