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