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Challenging Proposed Coal Export Terminal in Oakland, California

Aerial view of the San Francisco Bay. The coal export terminal would be developed on a piece of land right next to where the eastern end of the San Francisco Bay Bridge (center) touches down in Oakland.

Aerial view of the San Francisco Bay. The coal export terminal would be developed on a piece of land next to where the eastern end of the San Francisco Bay Bridge (center) touches down in Oakland.

Bing Maps. Microsoft. Retrieved 2 November 2015.

What's at Stake

Transporting and storing coal on the Oakland waterfront poses serious short- and long-term impacts on community health and the local environment.

Additional harm stems from exporting coal overseas. The carbon dioxide produced by burning coal contributes to global climate change, and pollutants from coal combustion in Asia drift eastward over the Pacific, worsening West Coast air quality.

Overview

After years of assurances that coal would not be transported through Oakland’s proposed bulk terminal at the former Oakland Army Base, in April 2015, community members learned that the developers had secretly cut a funding deal with four Utah counties that would bring coal into Oakland. The project, known as the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, is being built by a group of developers led by Prologis CCIG Oakland Global LLC.

Contrary to the fundamental requirements of California Environmental Quality Act, the environmental review for the project failed to include any discussion or analysis of the impacts of transporting, handling or exporting coal from Oakland on surrounding neighborhoods or the environment. This is particularly problematic given the project's disproportionate impact on Oakland's most vulnerable communities of color.

In exchange for $53 million in project funding, the developers promised the Utah counties shipping rights to at least 49% of the bulk terminal’s 9–10 million ton annual shipping capacity. Utah officials have stated that they intend to use this capacity to export coal to overseas markets. This development followed a number of public statements by CCIG’s President and CEO, Phil Tagami, that the company had “no interest or involvement in the pursuit of coal-related operations at the former Oakland Army Base.”

Case Updates

February 16, 2017 | Legal Document

Oakland Coal Export Ban Challenge Motion to Dismiss

pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-2, that on April 20, 2017, at 10:00 a.m., or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard, in the courtroom of the Honorable Vince Chhabria, at the United States Courthouse, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, Sierra Club and San Francisco Baykeeper, by counsel, will move the Court for an order dismissing two Commerce Clause claims filed by Plaintiff Oakland Bulk & Oversized Terminal, LLC.

February 16, 2017 | Legal Document

Oakland Coal Ban Challenge Motion to Intervene

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Sierra Club and San Francisco Baykeeper respectfully move to dismiss two of the claims embedded within OBOT’s First Claim for Relief, namely, that Oakland Ordinance No. 13385 and Resolution No. 86234 violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by (1) discriminating against out-of-state interests in favor of local ones; and (2) imposing an undue burden on interstate commerce. (Proposed) Defendant-Intervenors make this motion on the ground that as a matter of law, the facts alleged in the Complaint, judicially noticeable facts, and the plain language of the Ordinance and Resolution do not support viable claims by OBOT. Accordingly, this Motion seeks an order dismissing with prejudice the Commerce Clause discrimination and undue burden claims alleged within OBOT’s First Claim for Relief.
December 9, 2016 | In the News: Public Now

Terminal Developer Sues City Of Oakland To Overturn Coal Ban Ordinance

Colin O'Brien, Attorney, Earthjustice: "Phil Tagami broke his promise to the people of Oakland that he would not try to ship coal through this terminal. The City of Oakland stood up to his pressure and used their legal authority to ban coal from being handled or stored in Oakland on the basis that it poses a substantial risk to the health and safety of Oaklanders.