Online Resources for Researching the Proposed West Gateway Coal Terminal

Artist's rendition of the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal

Artist’s rendition of the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal

What Are the Key Documents on Public Health and Safety?

The City of Oakland maintains a web page on which it has posted numerous materials relating to the Army Base Gateway Redevelopment Project, the City’s public hearing and investigation of health and safety issues in connection with the proposed West Gateway coal terminal, the City’s adoption of the Coal Ordinance and Resolution, and the Complaint filed by Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal LLC (OBOT) against the City of Oakland challenging the Ordinance and Resolution.

Materials received by the City prior to October 27, 2015 in connection with the City Council’s public hearing were indexed by the City Clerk in a Record Summary of Army Base Gateway Redevelopment Project Documents Received in Connection.

NCIO has posted an annotated copy of the Clerk’s Record Summary highlighting the key evidence supporting the City’s findings as well as legal arguments in support of the City’s ban on storage and handling of coal at the West Gateway.

Among these submissions were comment letters from No Coal in Oakland and Earthjustice with supporting expert reports.

No Coal in Oakland’s comment—on behalf of itself, Sunflower Alliance, 350 Bay Area, System Change Not Climate Change, and West Oakland Neighbors—included analyses by Dr. Bart Ostro, former chief of the Air Pollution Epidemiology Section of the California Environmental Protection Agency, and Paul English, Ph.D., a public health epidemiologist with over 25 years of experience in assessing public health impacts of environmental exposures.

Earthjustice’s comment—submitted on behalf of Sierra Club, West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, Communities for a Better Environment, and San Francisco Baykeeper—was supported by extensive health and safety reports by veteran environmental analyst and consulting engineer Phyllis Fox, Ph.D., and University of California Davis professor of civil and environmental engineering Deb Niemeier, Ph.D.

Submissions after October 27, 2015 are also listed on the Court’s website but are not indexed in the Clerk’s Record Summary.  Some of the key documents supporting the City’s findings and legal position are:

June 2, 2016 Public Comment Letter from No Coal in Oakland Regarding Covers for Rail Transport of Coal

June 22, 2016 Correspondence from John Driscoll, Director of Maritime at the Port of Oakland

June 24, 2016 Public Comment Letter from Earthjustice

June 24, 2016 Public Comment Letter from Clean Water Action

June 27, 2016 Public Comment Letter from the Sierra Club

June 27, 2016 Public Comment Letter from the Port of Oakland

July 19, 2016 Public Comment Letter from the Sierra Club

Most importantly, in June 2016, three independent studies of the public health and safety impacts of the proposed coal terminal were published:

Public Health Advisory Panel, An Assessment of the Health and Safety Implications of Coal Transport through Oakland, June 14, 2016.  Dr. Muntu Davis, the Alameda County Health Officer, submitted a letter concurring in the findings of the Public Health Advisory Panel.  The Public Health Panel also submitted a document entitled Frequently Asked Health and Safety Questions about Coal in Oakland.

Environmental Science Associates Report, Report on the Health and/or Safety Impacts Associated with the Transport, Storage, and/or Handling of Coal and/or Coke in Oakland, Including at the Proposed Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal in the West Gateway Area of the Former Oakland Army Base, June 23, 2016.

Report Prepared for Councilmember Kalb from Zoe Chafe Ph.D., Analysis of Health Impacts and Safety Risks and Other Issues/Concerns Related to the Transport, Handling, Transloading, and Storage of Coal and/or Petroleum Coke (Petcoke) in Oakland and at the Proposed Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, List of Documents Cited, Documents Cited Volume 1, Documents Cited Volume 2, and Documents Cited Volume 3.

At the City Council meeting on June 27, 2016, Dr. Heather Kuiper of the Public Health Advisory Panel spoke and submitted a handout comparing the findings of the three studies.

How Did the Utah Coal Industry Connect Up With Oakland Developers?

The story of how a former Goldman Sachs banker brought together Utah coal interests and Oakland developers is an April 11, 2017 article on NCIO’s website, Canadian Bank Plays Big Role in Keystone Pipeline, Oakland Coal Terminal.  The article contains links to documents that were received from Utah government sources through public records requests including an email dated March 25, 2015, from banker Jeffrey Holt to numerous public officials in Utah outlining terms of the deal, and the draft slides and script for an upcoming presentation of the terminal proposal to a Utah government body from which a $53 million contribution was being sought.

What Are the Economic Prospects of the Coal Terminal?

In September 2015, Tom Sanzillo of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis prepared a comprehensive analysis of the economics of the coal exports project that was submitted by Earthjustice at the Oakland City Council’s public hearing in September 2015. Sanzillo’s analysis explored everything that was publicly known about the financial aspects of the proposal to ship coal through Oakland, as well the economics of the coal industry, and concluded that, “[f]rom Day One, the coal component of the [Oakland Army Base] project will be a financial drain on the City of Oakland, and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”

Where Is the West Gateway?

The West Gateway site of the proposed coal terminal is literally the gateway to Oakland approaching from the West.  If you are driving from San Francisco across the Bay Bridge, the West Gateway is a triangular 34-acre piece of land on the right-hand side just after the point where the bridge touches down.

In recent years, the West Gateway was used as a staging area for demolition of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge as shown in a 2013 aerial photo.  The demolition being near completion, the site is now largely vacant as seen in a more recent 2016 aerial photo.

What Does the Planned Terminal Look Like?

In September 2015, prior to the City Council’s public hearing, Terminal Logistics Solutions submitted a Basis of Design document to the City with disclaimers that it was a conceptual document that did not necessarily represent the terminal that the project proponents intended to construct.  A drawing included in the Basis of Design showed two large buildings and a domed structure.  The project proponents have also circulated an artist’s rendition of a radically different multi-domed design for the proposed bulk and oversized terminal.  A November 2016 animation shows the domes in action handling agricultural grains, soda ash, iron ore, borax, sodium sulfate, and … coal.  No building plans have been submitted to the City so the developer has no binding commitment to any of the details in the Basis of Design or the artists’ renditions and animations.

Where Can I Find Media Coverage of the Struggle Over Bringing Coal to Oakland?

The NCIO website has a page devoted to media reports and commentary.  For additional information on coal and related struggles, visit the Sunflower Alliance’s Oakland Coal Campaign archive and the Sierra Club Bay Area Chapter’s In the Media webpage.

Where Can I Find the Developer’s Side of the Story?

OBOT LLC’s website has a page linking to documents selected by OBOT.  Other related websites are maintained by Oakland Global and Terminal Logistics Solutions.