OAKLAND, Calif. – The Latest on a plan to ship coal through Oakland (all times local):
Oakland city officials unanimously voted to ban the shipment of coal, sidelining a plan to transport Utah coal to Asia through a proposed marine terminal on an old army base.
The proposed terminal is in West Oakland, a historically black neighbourhood that’s among the poorest and most polluted in the region.
Detractors highlight the environmental dangers of bringing millions of tons of coal through the area while supporters tout the economic benefits of good-paying union jobs.
The terminal is part of a larger makeover of an army base that closed in 1999, eliminating thousands of jobs. City leaders approved the project before the coal proposal was made.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilmember Dan Kalb introduced a proposal Monday to ban the shipping of coal, in advance of a hearing to determine whether coal presents a safety and health hazard.
An Oakland city council hearing to determine whether rail shipments of coal would pose a public health hazard is underway.
The chamber for the Oakland City Council’s Monday meeting is packed with supporters and opponents of a plan to ship Utah coal to Asia through a proposed marine terminal.
Outside, more than 150 people on both sides held boisterous rallies full of song and chants.
Supporters of the proposed terminal say it will bring badly needed jobs to a historically African-American neighbourhood that suffers from high unemployment. Opponents say the number of estimated jobs is paltry compared with the health and safety risks that come from transporting millions of tons of coal through the city.
City officials approved the project before learning about the coal proposal.
A scheduled vote in Northern California is expected to decide whether to ban rail shipments of coal over concerns it would pose a public health or safety hazard.
A yes vote Monday by the Oakland City Council could scuttle the plan to build a marine terminal that would serve as a gateway for Utah coal heading to Asia.
Detractors highlight the environmental dangers of bringing millions of tons of coal through the area while supporters tout the economic benefits.
Jerry Bridges, chief executive of the potential marine terminal operator, says jobs are the biggest issue and any environmental impact will be mitigated by transporting coal in covered rail cars that are unloaded underground.
On the other side is the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which opposes the shipment of coal.