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Oakland Council Blocks Utah Coal Port Scheme

June 28, 2016

Rachel Swan for the San Francisco Chronicle:

The Oakland City Council voted unanimously Monday to block the handling and storage of coal in Oakland, effectively halting a developer’s controversial plan to ship coal from the port.

Hundreds of people crowded City Hall — and demonstrated outside — as seven council members weighed the proposal by Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilman Dan Kalb to bar coal and petroleum coke from Oakland. Schaaf and Kalb advocated for their measure by arguing that these fossil fuels pollute the air and pose serious risks to workers and nearby residents. Councilwoman Desley Brooks was absent for the vote.

The new ordinance, which requires a second vote to be made final, would thwart Oakland developer Phil Tagami’s plan to export coal from a terminal near the east end of the Bay Bridge. It’s become the focus of a heated political debate, infuriating environmentalists and labor leaders but garnering support from some West Oakland residents who say it would create vital jobs.

Concerns about the project surfaced in 2014, after Tagami’s shipping operator, Terminal Logistics Solutions, entered talks with four coal-mining counties in Utah. Leaders of those counties promised to invest $53 million in the Oakland terminal, on the guarantee that Utah coal would be exported from Oakland.

In March of this year, Utah’s Legislature approved the deal.

Full article: Oakland council votes to block coal-shipping plan


Amy Joi O’Donoghue for the Deseret News:

Utah’s coal country does not believe a unanimous vote by the Oakland City Council prohibiting port access for its coal puts the state’s hope for an export terminal in the dust.

Developers of the terminal at the site of the former Oakland Army base may sue to challenge action by city leaders, and the four-county coalition in Utah will continue to pursue West Coast access for coal and other commodities, according to Carbon County Commissioner Jae Potter.

“We will continue to look for export opportunities,” he said, including siting a port in international waters.

Domestic demand for coal has dropped sharply in a market that has forced the bankruptcy of the nation’s largest coal company, Peabody, as well as other major players unable to survive the tepid conditions.

The U.S. Energy Administration reported this month that coal production in the first three months of 2016 reached its lowest level since a major coal strike 35 years ago.

Compliance with increasing environmental regulations, slow growth in electricity demand, and competition with natural gas and renewable energy resources are all combining to paint an abysmal future for coal.

In Utah, one coal-fired power plant has been shuttered and PacifiCorp — the parent company to Rocky Mountain Power — was just ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to install tougher pollution controls at its Huntington and Hunter power plants.

The upgrades are expected to cost in excess of $600 million.

Full item: Utah counties determined to find port for coal

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