With a little help from our friends

Train cars filled with coal near Levin in Richmond


It’s the season of giving thanks, and Friendsgiving celebrations are the highlight of my calendar. These opportunities to gather with close friends are a Thanksgiving tradition my husband and I adopted when we first moved to the Bay Area—when our family was far away, our friends were here for us.

In a trifecta of appreciation this week, we’ll be celebrating the season with a traditional feast with dear friends in Napa, a vegetarian cornucopia with close friends in the East Bay, and a festive Indian meal with family at home.

These gatherings to appreciate the loved ones in our lives couldn’t come at a more critical time. Current political events, societal inequities, and the climate crisis feel more challenging and isolating than ever.

And here in our hometown, environmental injustice has struck again. Last month, a judge sided with the coal industry. This ruling is going to make it easier for a developer to build a new polluting coal terminal in Oakland.

That means open train cars moving through the Bay Area, shedding hundreds of pounds of coal dust in their wake. It means a facility on the shoreline handling—and spilling—toxic coal into the Bay. It’ll also mean increasing rates of asthma, heart disease, and other health concerns for the already burdened residents of West Oakland.

The latest ruling is a legal blow in a battle we’ve been fighting for nearly a decade, with no end in sight.

Or seen another way, it’s just one small step in a successful grassroots campaign that has stalled the coal terminal for nearly ten years. And we’re not done yet.

That’s thanks to the amazing dedication of Bay Area residents who are standing up against polluting fossil fuels. We’re working on the front lines alongside valued community partners like No Coal in Oakland, Youth vs Apocalypse, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and others. We also recently joined a dozen community groups across the country to legally compel EPA to regulate pollution from open train cars, something the agency has a clear responsibility for and should be doing already.

Together with our friends, we’re fighting Big Coal and keeping this polluting industry out of the Bay Area. So, I want to say thank you for being among our friends. Your support allows Baykeeper’s advocates, scientists, and lawyers to stand on the front lines of the battle. It’s your commitment that buoys our spirits and keeps us afloat. With a little help from our friends, we can defend the Bay so that everyone who lives around the Bay Area can have a healthy home to feel grateful for this season.

Happy Friendsgiving!

Pictured, above: train cars at the Levin Terminal in Richmond (Photo: Baykeeper)