Environmentalists and city leaders are fighting a proposal to let a planned cargo terminal on a portion of the old Oakland Army Base become a way station for coal. Those who oppose the plan cite concerns about air quality and the effects of coal burning on climate change. The developer of the project, Oakland businessman Phil Tagami, says no commitments have been made to any particular commodity.

Activists, Residents Fight Plan to Ship Coal Through Oakland 22 July,2015forum

Jess Dervin-Ackerman, conservation program manager for the Sierra Club Bay Chapter
Dan Brekke, blogger and online editor for KQED


    Beside it’s great contribution to global warming burning coal also produces tens of thousands of time more radioactive material than all nuclear reactors across the world,…Over one year period coal burning produce billions of tons of radioactive Uranium ,Thorium ,Radium ,Carbon 14 and many others radioactive elements.

    • Ilya Katsnelson

      On top of it, a lot of this pollution is actually blown back to California across the ocean.

    • Paul

      @ Eidalm & Ilya: Indeed true.
      The US coal industry is becoming like the tobacco industry — as its consumption was discouraged in the US, tobacco growers needed to open more international markets to sell their product. Coal virtually fits the same economic model. But to get it overseas, it has to transit through our port cities.

      • EIDALM

        Totally agree ,greed and profits killing the planet.

  • Another Mike

    Step back a bit: Shipping coal to China just maintains the global warming status quo, because the planet doesn’t really care where the fossilized carbon is injected into the atmosphere. How is shipping our coal overseas desirable or even useful?

  • Another Mike

    I just remembered: my father would talk about his family walking along the railroad track, picking up coal that had fallen out of the rail cars, during the Depression, to save on the cost of heating the house. So coal has been falling out of rail cars for a long time.

  • Ben Rawner

    CA is not exporting anything, the coal is going through CA. What CA should do is tax every pound of coal that goes through the state. Poor nations need power and groups like the Sierra club stop all kinds of alternative power from happening from “bird killing” wind turbines to coal. They will not stop until we are all living in huts like its 2015 BC.

    • srcarruth

      coal is not an ‘alternative’ power. it is the main source of power in this country (39%)

      • Adele

        Yes, it is still a major energy source but times are changing….July 7, 2015 the Government Office of Energy Efficiency created the National Community Solar Partnership to produce off the grid community solar energy for renters or people with low-income. Means public buildings will be feeding their solar energy into the grid for everyone. Will Oakland be a Port to the past or to the future?

        • srcarruth

          The current discussion is about coal and its transportation through Oakland. I hope we come to a day where we don’t need to burn coal for power but that day is a long way off and in the meantime coal needs to be moved around so we need to work on that being handled properly.

    • Robert Thomas

      I’m a lay person but on its face it seems your proposal would likely be challenged as offensive of the Interstate Commerce Clause. If the coal however were held in inventory it might be taxable for example under the California Supreme Court’s 1986 decision in Star-Kist Foods, Inc. v. County of Los Angeles, or some such.

    • Paul

      Agreed. Historically, the US has been forced by far-left leaning environmentalists to burn coal in place of near-zero GHG nuclear, which must be part of the climate solution, even at it’s very high expense. And more recently, wind & solar voltaic technology are similarly litigated for years & years whenever an utility scale facility is proposed. How may new solar & wind facilities have been built in the last several years in the western states? Only a few. There are a few more planned, but we’ll never catch up with the 2C goal at this rate. Climate change is here to stay, thanks in part to over-zealous litigators, so unfortunately, we’ll need to learn to live with it, even with conservation & rooftop solar adopted.

  • Jarod HM

    If this is allowed in the city of Oakland, I am done with California. California cannot trade on its image as being a participatory democracy, then corporate interests cannot make decisions with no regard for the will of the people.

    We do not need jobs at the expense of the long-term health of the community. Coal has very high externalities that do not outweigh more union jobs.

    • Robert Thomas

      You mean “externalities that [do] outweigh more union jobs”, rather than “externalities that do not outweigh more union jobs”, right?

  • ShipGuy

    It will be nearly impossible to load the coal into ships via conveyor belts without creating a cloud of coal dust in the area.

  • Dave_Mcc

    Coal is a dying industry. Two hundred coal-fired power plants have been closed in the U.S. in recent years. With typical myopia, coal companies and counties in which their mines are centered now are trying to continue business as usual by exporting to countries with lower environmental standards. Meanwhile China and other Asian countries have embarked on campaigns to reduce their need for coal by rapidly building renewable energy resources. Meanwhile as another commenter said, the pollution and green house gases we export in the form of coal blows right back to us over the Pacific.

  • T Ranahan

    CA doesn’t operate any coal burning plants anymore. For this state to be an accomplice to large scale pollution is criminal.

  • Adele

    Burlington Northern Railroad and Union Pacific have direct routes west from Utah to the Bay Area. Union Pacific annual meeting is every second week of May in Utah. Its won’t happen until next year, but if you are a stock holder go and speak. Otherwise write to them. Burlington Northern is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s fund. I’m pretty sure Warren Buffet wouldn’t want to be the face on this venture. Just stop the trains!!!! Utah and all coal mining states need to retrain and retool into renewable energy. According to the Bureau of Labor there are now more solar workers across this country than coal miners. Last year more solar jobs were created in 3 weeks than in all of 2008.

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