No Coal in Oakland, Allies Launch Campaign Targeting Bank Backing the Bowie Coal Terminal

Along with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, 350.org, Rainforest Action Network, Friends of the Earth U.S., and Friends of the Earth Canada, No Coal in Oakland today launched a campaign seeking a pledge from Bank of Montreal to refrain from any further efforts to arrange financing for Bowie Resource Partners, Utah’s largest coal producer, to build and operate a $250 million marine export terminal on the West Oakland waterfront.

Documents obtained through public documents requests revealed the bank’s central role in putting together the deal that would route up to ten million tons of coal per year through Oakland. The six environmental justice groups kicked off the campaign with a letter to Bank of Montreal CEO Darryl White calling on the bank to live up to the Equator Principles, a set of internationally recognized environmental guidelines to which Bank of Montreal and over a hundred other financial institutions worldwide are signatory.

In coming months, No Coal in Oakland plans to roll out a multi-faceted campaign to put the spotlight on the bank’s involvement in backing the proposed coal terminal.  The campaign will seek the support and endorsement of NCIO’s many community allies, including local labor, faith, environmental justice, and climate justice groups, as well as U.S., Canadian, and international organizations that will put the Bank of Montreal on notice that it must disavow further promotion of the coal terminal or face widespread exposure of its attempt to profiteer off of coal.

NCIO sent out the following press release earlier today:

California residents demand that Bank of Montreal pledge not to finance Oakland coal export terminal whether or not federal judge upholds City’s ban on coal.

 San Francisco, March 29th, 2018

 In a letter addressed to CEO Darryl White ahead of the Bank’s April 5 annual general meeting, local and national environmental organizations urge the Bank of Montreal to reconsider its plan to aid Utah’s largest coal producer in raising funds to finance the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT).

Also on April 5, a hearing is scheduled in San Francisco, at which U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria may announce his ruling in the lawsuit by the OBOT coal terminal developer against the City of Oakland, which voted in 2016 to ban the storage and handling of coal in the face of local opposition and evidence of adverse health impacts.

Ted Franklin, an organizer with the grassroots No Coal in Oakland campaign, comments, “Emails obtained through public information requests in the state of Utah revealed that Bank of Montreal was planning to market $200 million in unrated debt to North American pension funds to finance construction of a coal terminal in Oakland. Despite an intense effort to disguise coal’s role, documents revealed that Bowie Resource Partners, the coal company, would create a new subsidiary to receive the money and own and operate the terminal. It was all about coal. The bank and developers knew that and may have failed to disclose material information to investors had the project not been stopped by Oakland residents.”

Ms. Margaret Gordon, with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP) comments, “There are no safe levels of particulate matter for the community and residents of West Oakland. WOEIP has over twenty years of research and data showing West Oakland is one of the most disproportionately impacted communities in Alameda County. West Oakland has three freeways, Port of Oakland operations and related businesses all contributing to air pollution in one community. Any coal coming through West Oakland on trains will have a negative impact on residents who are already suffering from asthma and cancer from exposure to other air pollution. There is no evidence to prove that covered train cars will be effective or even used at all. No coal trains!”

Matt Leonard, West Oakland resident and organizer at 350.org comments, “Bowie Resources, Utah’s largest coal producer, is footing the bill for a lawsuit against the City of Oakland, wasting city resources for a project that local residents don’t want. The developer promised jobs 3 years ago and now the site has been sitting empty while they pursue this frivolous lawsuit. The land will continue to be unused as long as the plan is to ship coal through Oakland because of the intense and ongoing state and local opposition to the project and resulting legal obstacles they will face.

Patrick McCully, Climate and Energy Program Director, Rainforest Action Network comments, “The Bank of Montreal has no policies in place to restrict its coal financing, which earns the bank nothing more than a D- in our book, and undermines the Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. In its plans to finance the coal terminal in Oakland, the Bank of Montreal again demonstrates the failure of the Equator Principles and its signatories to protect communities and the climate. We need to see clear and aggressive action by the Bank of Montreal to get out of this venture now, and we need to see the bank and its peers put real policies in place that will prevent the financing of harmful coal all together.”

John Bennett, Senior Policy Advisor, Friends of the Earth Canada comments, “Some analysts predict a 74% loss in annual return potential in the coal sub-sector over the next 35 years. The Bank of Montreal has a moral responsibility to its depositors and shareholders not to expose their money in risky coal investments.”

Doug Norlen at Friends of the Earth US comments, “As a signatory to the Equator Principles, the Bank of Montreal should have demonstrated transparent environmental risk assessments and stakeholder engagement. Civil society and the market will hold the bank accountable for this mistake.”

-ENDS


You can read the full open letter to the Bank of Montreal here: http://nocoalinoakland.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Letter-to-BMO.pdf

You can read a detailed background of the history of Bank of Montreal’s involvement with the OBOT and how this violates its commitment to the Equator Principles here: http://nocoalinoakland.info/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Background-for-BMO.pdf