Friday, October 2, 2015

Coal Opponents File Legal Action in State Court Seeking New Environmental Analysis

By Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Oct 2, 2015 at 2:45 PM

click to enlarge TOM ANDERSON / FILE PHOTO
  • Tom Anderson / file photo
Opponents of plans to ship millions of tons of coal through Oakland filed a legal action in state court today in an effort to require a new California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analysis for the Oakland Bulk Oversized Terminal project. According to the groups, coal was never studied in the original environmental analysis, and the city cannot say what impact shipping coal through Oakland would have on people's health. The groups maintain that an analysis of shipping coal will show significant health and environmental harms.

See also: Environmental Groups Say Oakland Can and Should Ban Coal Exports
See also: Banking on Coal in Oakland

“Shipping coal through the bulk terminal would be devastating to the health of the West Oakland community and many other communities along the rail line,” said Irene Gutierrez, attorney at Earthjustice in a press release. “The California Environmental Quality Act was meant to protect the public from being kept in the dark about what this new coal project means for their health, safety and environment. We seek to hold the City to its duties to inform and protect the public.”

The action was filed by the environmental law firm Earthjustice for Communities for a Better Environment, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, the Sierra Club, and San Francisco Baykeeper. The action isn't yet a full-blown lawsuit, but it reserves the right of the groups to sue the city if it does not require a new CEQA analysis for coal.

Lawyers representing Phil Tagami and Jerry Bridges, the developers of the bulk terminal, told the Oakland City Council during a hearing on coal held on September 21 that the Oakland Bulk Oversized Terminal project has undergone extensive study, and that no new CEQA analysis — or new permitting — is needed before they can accept coal shipments. They also claimed that the city lacks the authority to ban coal shipments, regardless of whether a new environmental study is conducted.

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