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Utah Coal Industry Seeks a Legal Lifeline in Oakland Courtroom

January 22, 2018

Salt Lake Tribune:

After hearing three days of testimony last week, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria will soon decide to either affirm or invalidate Oakland’s coal ban that thwarted a major Utah coal producer’s hopes of shipping 5 to 10 million tons to Asian countries.

A subsidiary of Bowie Resource Partners, which operates Utah’s Dugout, Sufco and Skyline mines, holds an option to lease the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, or OBOT, under development on a 34-acre city-owned property on the San Francisco Bay’s east shore.

The judge completed the hearings Friday and will rule in the coming weeks. At trial, OBOT developer Phil Tagami’s lawyers — whose sizable legal bills Bowie is covering — highlighted what they say are glaring flaws in a coal risk assessment the city used to justify its ban.

Tagami contends the city breached agreements that vested him with a right to develop the terminal at the former Oakland Army Base.

In Chhabria’s courtroom, dueling expert witnesses that gave opposite views about the health and safety impacts of handling coal. The city’s witnesses testified that the coal-loading terminal could subject West Oakland, already a distressed part of town that bears a heavy legacy of industrial pollution, to unacceptable levels of coal dust.

More: How the future of Utah’s coal industry rests with a federal judge in San Francisco

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