Appeals Court Ruling Favors Shipment of Coal Through Planned Oakland Terminal

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A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal trial judge’s ruling by a 2-1 vote today. They court ruled in favor of developers of a planned Oakland terminal project over The city of Oakland and two environmental groups.

The ruling gives a green light to the possible shipment of up to 5 million metric tons of coal per year through the planned bulk terminal at the former Oakland Army Base.

The Oakland City council concluded that such shipments would endanger public health and safety by creating coal-dust air pollution and a risk of combustion of the coal. The court found that the City of Oakland lacked sufficient evidence when it sought to ban large shipments of coal in 2016.

Emeryville was one of eleven East Bay cities who pledged support of Oakland’s efforts to oppose the transport of coal through their cities. In addition to the coal dust, they cited the exposure of residents to increased diesel emissions and an increased risk of rail collisions and derailments.


But the appeals court majority agreed with the findings of the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco, who said the evidence Oakland relied on was weak and flawed.



The bayside terminal project is also known as the Oakland Bulk & Oversized Terminal LLC, or OBOT. Chhabria said in his 2018 ruling that up to 5 million metric tons of coal per year, carried on long trains from states such as Wyoming and Utah, could be transferred through the terminal.

The city of Oakland and the environmental groups then appealed the lower court ruling. Sierra Club attorney Jessica Loarie said in a statement, “Oakland communities are already struggling with severe air pollution and can’t afford the added impacts of coal pollution.

“We will continue to support them as the city looks for a solution that creates jobs at the new terminal without compromising community health and safety,” Loarie said.

Feature Image: obotjv.com

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  1. So the City of Oakland does not have the right to oversee and determine what happens in or to it’s city? I don’t understand. What gives them the right to decide for Oakland what it’s citizens should or should not be exposed to and to put the burden of environmental proof on us? I think someone was asleep at the wheel on this one. Someone needs to sue or challenge the 9th District on their ruling. I am not an attorney but as a citizen I know that decision is flawed on a number of fronts and must be challenged. What will they do to us next? It’s as if this is a free for all. We need to stop and block this now. I would think that the stopping point is the fact that “transporting coal was not considered in the Environmental Review” approved with Quan and Barbara Lee’s blessings in 2012 negates the matter or at lease removes the transporting of the coal through Oakland. Did they not know what they were sanctioning? To me it’s a closed matter. It was previously mentioned that It wasn’t specifically outlined, mentioned and included in the original approval and therefore cannot be slid in now. And I don’t understand how the 9th Circuit could uphold this if the transport was not included. End of story…..period! The City of Oakland should also immediately cease doing business with Tagami and California Capital & Investment Group. Oakland is not for sale. A few jobs (which most likely will be filled by folks coming in from outside the area) are not worth the death of us all and all the major illnesses that will ensue not only for Oaklander’s but also for residents of the surrounding cities. All 3 of my great grandchildren who reside in West Oakland with their mom already have asthma since they were little.

  2. THIS has proven my final decision to move is the right move. There’s something really wrong when people wants to keep using coal and parking it next to people using equipment that pollutes as well. I would argue the court is full of lawyers that has never seen the “ghetto” outside of their tv. It’s so obvious that pollution causes asthma. So much data and graphs out there but the lawyers don’t care so long as their comfortable homes are heated by coal. Once again why the f do they need to bring a coal ship through the bay when we are trying to rid of coal?

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