Baykeeper Update

Baykeeper Supports State Legislation to Restrict Coal Export from California

Four bills introduced in the California Legislature by State Senator Loni Hancock would reduce the threat of pollution from coal in San Francisco Bay and local communities. Baykeeper supports all four.

The proposed legislation will help prevent coal from being exported from the terminal proposed at the former Oakland Army Base, and may also keep dirty fossil fuels out of Vallejo. Baykeeper has been fighting to prevent coal and other fossil fuel exports from both cities. Coal headed to Oakland would arrive in long trains of open cars, shedding toxic dust and pieces of coal along the Bay shoreline. Coal could also be spilled into the Bay if flawed (but still common) procedures are used to load coal onto outbound ships. 

Coal contains arsenic, lead, and other toxins. In addition to polluting San Francisco Bay, coal dust carried in open train cars would blow into neighborhoods near railroad tracks in cities that include Berkeley, Emeryville, Richmond, and Oakland. Research links coal dust to asthma—which is already a problem in West Oakland—as well as bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema, and heart disease.

The four bills include:

SB 1277, Coal Health and Safety, would declare that the transportation of coal through West Oakland presents a health and safety danger to residents. The bill also prohibits shipping coal through an Oakland port terminal whose development has been funded at least in part with state funds.

SB 1278, Coal Environmental Impact Reports, would require an Environmental Impact Report to be prepared to evaluate the impacts related to shipping coal through Oakland.

SB 1279, Coal Funding, prohibits the use of public funds to build or operate any port that exports coal from California.

SB 1280, Coal Mitigations, requires ports that ship coal and receive state funds to either prohibit coal shipments or fully mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the combustion of the coal.

In addition to supporting these four bills with expert testimony at legislative hearings, Baykeeper will continue advocating against development proposals that would expose San Francisco Bay and local communities to coal pollution.