No Coal in Vallejo launches
No Coal in Vallejo launched on Saturday, October 6, 2018, when more than two dozen people crowded into the VStudio community space to hear about the campaigns against coal in Oakland and Richmond, ask questions, and think about how to move a campaign against coal forward in Vallejo.
Many of the people who attended on Saturday are activists in Fresh Air Vallejo, a group that has been fighting for 3-1/2 years to prevent the construction of a cement factory on the Napa River. The cement factory poses serious environmental hazards. Cement dust is toxic, linked to asthma and cancer. The Orcem plant would operate 24 hours a day, with dust, diesel fumes, and noise disrupting the residential neighborhood in which it will be sited, if built. Trains with 50-100 cars could block passage of emergency vehicles. Truck traffic in and out of the plant would pose hazards to pedestrians. There are lots of questions about the accuracy of environmental studies and the objectivity of the city council members. (NCIO reported on Fresh Air Vallejo last summer. More information is available at FreshAirVallejo.com.)
Besides the dangers of the cement plant, Vallejo environmentalists are wary of possible plans to use the waterfront site to ship coal, a concern first identified by the Sierra Club Solano Group. The cement factory’s projected needs only account for 20-40% of the capacity of the proposed terminal, and other possible tenants have not been identified. In addition, the adjacent property is owned by Kiewit Corporation, one of North America’s largest construction and engineering companies, with additional interests in mining, energy, and transportation, and 2017 revenues of $8.7 billion. Kiewit owns at least one coal mine, in Wyoming, is involved in management of others in Texas, and is connected to mining of other minerals.
Western ports are a tempting outlet for landlocked coal mines in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Activists in different East Bay communities are recognizing the importance of supporting and learning from each other. The Vallejo meeting on October 6th was an important step toward building a No Coal Anywhere Alliance.