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A federal appeals court in San Francisco has given a green light to the shipment of up to 5 million metric tons of coal per year through a planned bulk terminal at the former Oakland Army Base.
A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by a 2-1 vote Tuesday upheld a federal trial judge’s ruling that the Oakland City Council lacked sufficient evidence when it sought to ban large shipments of coal in 2016.
The council concluded that such shipments would endanger public health and safety by creating coal-dust air pollution and a risk of combustion of the coal.
But the appeals court majority agreed with the findings of the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco, who said the evidence Oakland relied on was weak and flawed.
The bayside terminal project is known as the Oakland Bulk & Oversized Terminal LLC, or OBOT. Chhabria said in his 2018 ruling that up to 5 million metric tons of coal per year, carried on long trains from states such as Wyoming and Utah, could be transferred through the terminal.
The city of Oakland and two environmental groups appealed the lower court ruling.
Sierra Club attorney Jessica Loarie said in a statement, “Oakland communities are already struggling with severe air pollution and can’t afford the added impacts of coal pollution.
“We will continue to support them as the city looks for a solution that creates jobs at the new terminal without compromising community health and safety,” Loarie said.