Oakland community groups are calling this week’s federal court ruling that the City of Oakland violated its contract with the developer a “temporary setback” as they plan further actions to block construction of a coal terminal in West Oakland.
According to Ted Franklin, an organizer with the grassroots No Coal in Oakland campaign, “We disagree with the judge’s decision, but this is only a temporary setback. We are part of a broad movement that opposes construction of a coal terminal in Oakland and we will fight as long as it takes.”
“Utah’s largest coal producer, Bowie Resource Partners, and local developer Phil Tagami have teamed up on a foolish plan to ship Utah coal overseas,” he said. “A coal export terminal in Oakland would bring toxic dust to our most vulnerable neighborhoods and add to carbon pollution around the world.”
According to Franklin, Bowie and Tagami are seeking to raise $200 million to complete the project.
“No Coal in Oakland will be campaigning to make sure that no investor makes the foolish error of lending them the money to follow through on their plan,” said Franklin.
In 2016, a loose coalition of community, labor, faith, and political groups successfully campaigned for the Oakland City Council to adopt an ordinance banning coal storage and handling in Oakland. In December 2016, Tagami, with Bowie’s financial backing, filed suit to challenge the application of the ordinance to the proposed coal export facility.
Asian Pacific EnvironmentalNetwork (APEN), Center for Biological Diversity, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, Communities for a Better Environment, and No Coal in Oakland filed an amicus brief highlighting the numerous environmental impacts the project would impose on Oakland residents.
Responding to Tuesday’s decision by U.S. District Judge Vince Girdhari Chhabria, Oakland Chinatown resident and APEN member leader, Pan Hai Bo said:
“While Phil Tagami celebrtes his win today, he is working to endanger the lives of people across Oakland and pollute the air that he himself breathes—all to line his pockets. We are going to keep fighting, and we are going to make sure that we stop Tagami’s disastrous proposal from putting us all at risk.”
Addressing the City’s options, Lora Jo Foo of No Coal in Oakland said:
“It is important to be clear what the judge’s ruling actually says. He did not overturn the coal ban ordinance. He overturned the resolution applying the ordinance to this particular terminal only because he found the evidence before the City Council in 2016 insufficient.
He also indicated that the city could try again to bar use of the terminal for coal shipping and handling ‘so long as it complies with its legal obligations, including any legitimate contractual obligations to the project developers.”