Judge Allows Coal Terminal to Proceed; Groups Pledge Resistance

Coal piles at the Levin Terminal in Richmond

Developers May Proceed with Plans for Controversial Oakland Coal Terminal

Community and environmental groups remain committed to stopping the project

OAKLAND, Calif. — Alameda County Superior Court Judge Noël Wise issued a final judgment today granting the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT) permission to resume efforts to build a massive terminal for exporting coal near the Port of Oakland. 

Environmental organizations, community groups and council members have been working in partnership for years to prevent coal from coming into Oakland. The proposed project is widely opposed because of concerns that the coal terminal would contribute to climate change and significantly harm air quality, public health, and quality of life in West Oakland, which is already overburdened by some of the worst air quality in the region. 

In October, the court ruled against the City of Oakland and in favor of developers in the fight against the terminal. But while OBOT originally asked for almost $160 million in damages, they were given the choice of either taking $318,000 or proceeding with the opportunity to develop. OBOT elected to continue developing with a new deadline to begin construction by July 2026. Both parties now have sixty days to file an appeal of any part of Judge Wise’s decisions.

UPDATE as of Wednesday, January 24: The City of Oakland has filed an appeal to this decision, which effectively prohibits OBOT from beginning construction on the coal terminal until the appeal has been decided.

In response, Sierra Club, San Francisco Baykeeper, and Oakland resident Gracie Osborne issued the following statements:

Gracie Osborne, Oakland resident and Youth vs. Apocalypse Climate Justice Fellow, said:

“Despite how unpopular this project has been for residents of Oakland, Phil Tagami and other developers have continued with this misguided, hazardous terminal. But we won’t take this lying down or negotiate with our public health. 

“We’ll keep fighting to keep coal out of our backyards and toxic coal dust out of our lungs. I know this decision will only galvanize the community to fight even harder for environmental justice in Oakland.”

Jacob Klein, Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter Organizing Manager, said: 

“This part of the case may be over, but the ultimate fate of the facility remains uncertain. The developers have to make their way through a gauntlet of permits, complex administrative and regulatory steps and unrelenting community opposition before they can even start construction on this thing.

“Our coalition remains strong, and we plan to continue to fight for the health and safety of Oakland communities. We will support the City in doing whatever it takes to shut down any possibility of coal storage and handling in Oakland.”

Ben Eichenberg, San Francisco Baykeeper staff attorney, said:

“If the developers decide to move forward with their plan to put a polluting coal export terminal in Oakland; even with this court’s decision, they can expect a long, uphill battle. For over a decade, frontline communities have demonstrated their commitment to keeping this poisonous project out of West Oakland, and the Oakland city council and city attorney’s office have been staunch allies opposing it every step of the way. The City was right to appeal the court’s decision immediately. When this polluting project is quashed once and for all, Oakland will breathe a little easier.”