Special Edition of Oakland News, September 2015
Oakland City Hall Rally -- Photo from National Resources Defense Council

The fight against coal exports is not only an issue of health and safety for our city; it is at the heart of critical issues for our planet and global warming.  

Oaklanders are proud to live in one of the nation's greenest cities and to be pioneers for environmental justice. We have made substantial progress on our city's ambitious Energy and Climate Action Plan; but helping to expand coal exports counteracts our work to reduce global warming.  One of the broadest coalitions in recent memory is coming together to oppose coal exports from Oakland.  Please take a few minutes to look at what is at stake, take action, and share this newsletter with friends and neighbors.



1. Coal Is Toxic and Puts Our Community's Health At Risk
  • The proposal to build a coal exporting facility on land leased from the City would allow Bowie Resources of Utah to export up to ten million tons of Utah coal each year through Oakland for over 60 years.  The mining, transport, and burning of this coal would create over 12.5 million tons of greenhouse emissions each year.  To offset these emissions more than two million passenger cars would have to be removed from the road each year.
  • Coal dust is clearly linked with pulmonary diseases like emphysema, asthma, etc.  Any additional risk caused by this plan in our dense urban area is an unacceptable risk.
  • The Bay Area already has some of the highest asthma rates, and Alameda County has double the state's rate.  West Oakland and Emeryville have triple the county rate.  Our children are the most vulnerable and they do not need even one more ounce of air pollution.
Map By Bay Area News Group

"the Port of Oakland rejected a similar proposal last year based on environmental concerns. Earthjustice's letter notes that there are no covered rail cars currently shipping coal in the United States, and there do not appear to be any scientific studies on the safety of shipping coal via this method. Furthermore, the letter states that 'there is no way to evaluate the efficacy of covered rail cars as a proposed mitigation, because the developer has not posted design plans for the facility or transportation infrastructure and there are no enforceable conditions in place for the facility or trains.'"
  • Chart by Courtney Flat, Oregon Public Broadcasting
    The amount of coal dust polluting the nation's railways and the waterways and communities along them is astounding. Currently the most effective mitigation is spraying a surfactant on the coal, reducing dust pollution by 85%.  This sounds impressive until you realize that the remaining 15% means 100 pounds per rail car instead of 645 pounds lost in the process ! Just one 50 car train would generate 5,000 pounds.
2. Coal Would Gamble With the Port's Long Term Success
  • As Mayor I worked hard to save and secure funds for the expansion of the Port of Oakland, especially this bulk loading facility.  In numerous conversations with city officials, and labor and community leaders, the developers denied that coal was going to be part of this project.  I also spent significant effort promoting California agricultural products in China. Oakland is now the largest exporter of food to Asia, and these exports grow our regional economy and provide more local jobs.  I think the inevitable environment lawsuits would delay our development and the project would tie up our shipping capacity to a "dirty" out-of-state product that puts our future at risk.
  • The International Longshore & Warehouse Union, whose jobs are most tied to the future of the Port, has a clear policy refusing to load coal for export. "Waterfront space is in short supply on the West Coast, and it would be a mistake to lock Oakland into a decades-long lease with a coal industry that many say is dying. Coal proposals have failed up and down the West Coast, and Oakland shouldn't become the dumping ground for dirty, low value cargoes that no one else wants."   >>Rally at Longview, Washington
  • Washington State, in a historic decision, denied permits for a coal export facility last year. Lawsuits based on the Clean Water Act are being planned for other proposed sites. 
    Click this photo for a short video on the Northwest fight against coal exports.

3.  These Mines Threaten Our National Heritage
  • The 
    The La Sal mountains from Arches National Park
    Bowie mines are located in the Manti-La Sal National Forest which borders the Canyonlands (think classic cowboy movies) and Arches National Parks -- two of our national treasures.
  • The underground coal tunnels here are already undermining streams and ground water and the fish and other living things dependent on the region's scare water. Not only is there pollution, but creeks are literally disappearing as fissures spread. 
Fissures on mountain above mine
Collapsed creek and fallen trees.  Photos by WildEarth Guardians
4.  Coal Exported to Asia Comes Back to Us In Air & Water Pollution
  • Smog nearly hides Tianmen, the national symbol of China.
    A new UCB study says that air pollution is killing about 4,000 people a day in China, accounting for 1 in 6 premature deaths. Another Chinese study finds that in the coal burning north, Chinese live about 5 years less than those who live in the south. This has put huge political pressure on China's leaders. The recent necessity to close over 20,000 plants around Beijing for weeks to clear the air for the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the end of WWII has only increased the national focus on air and coal.
>> This very nice clear chart comes from the State of Alaska.  It offers advice on fish consumption given the levels of mercury contamination in fish.
5.  This Deal Extends Coal Use Just As US & China's Use is Declining. Keep Coal in the Ground & Reduce Global Warming Before Its Too Late!

  • Record numbers of US coal-fired power plants are set to close this year in the US. Bloomberg estimates that 7% of US coal capacity will come offline due to a combination of low gas prices, new mercury emission standards and the closing of power plants -- resulting in the cleanest year since data has been collected (60 years).
  • Just this month US and big city Chinese mayors, state and national leaders agreed to work towards a shared goal of limiting GHG emissions to 2 tons per capita - or 80 percent below 1990 levels - by 2050.  This is a more advanced goal for China than the national plan announced in June to produce at least 20 percent of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 and to reduce carbon emission by 60 to 65 percent from 2005 levels.  
  • Keep Coal in the Ground:  The US has been urging China, the largest user of coal (we are second), to reduce burning of coal to reduce global warming.  It is insane that the Department of the Interior is increasing coal leases on publicly own federal lands! This report by WildEarth Guardians makes the case to end coal leasing.


Click here to find your City Council district.  The at-large representative is citywide.

District Name Phone Fax Email
1 Dan Kalb 238-7001 238-6910 dkalb@oaklandnet.com
2 Abel Guillen 238-7002 238-6910 aguillen@oaklandnet.com
3 Lynette Gibson McElhaney 238-7003 238-6910 LMcElhaney@oaklandnet.com
4 Annie Campbell Washington 238-7004 238-6129 acampbell-washington@oaklandnet.com
5 Noel Gallo 238-7005 238-6129 ngallo@oaklandnet.com
6 Desley Brooks 238-7006 238-6129 dbrooks@oaklandnet.com
7 Larry E. Reid 238-7007 238-6910 lreid@oaklandnet.com
At Large Rebecca Kaplan 238-7008 238-6910 rkaplan@oaklandnet.com


President Barack Obama (D)
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
(202)456-1111 (comments) TDD (202)456-6213 (comments)

THE CONGRESS (202) 224-3121
U.S. SENATE    http://www.senate.gov
Barbara Boxer (D)
70 Washington Street, Suite 203,  Oakland, CA 94607
286-8537     (202) 224-0454 Fax
Washington office:
112 Hart Senate Bldg,  Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3553   Fax (202) 224-0454
Dianne Feinstein (D)
1 Post Street, Suite 2450,  San Francisco, Ca 94104
(415) 393-0707    (415) 393-0710 Fax
Washington office:
331 Hart Senate Bldg,  Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3841   TTY: (202) 224-2501    (202) 228-3954 Fax
District 13    Barbara Lee (D)
Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont and San Leandro
1301 Clay St., Suite 1000 N, Oakland Ca 94612
763-0370    763-6538 Fax
Email Congresswoman Lee at her website, below
Washington office:
2267 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
(202) 225-2661    (202) 225-9817 Fax

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