Some Oakland Candidates Declare Opposition to Coal. Others do not.
The ongoing battle over a proposed coal terminal on the Oakland Waterfront
Local developer Phil Tagami has been angling to build a coal terminal next to the Bay Bridge toll plaza for nearly ten years now, at the West Gateway site on the former Oakland Army Base. In 2016 the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to ban the storage and handling of coal in the city, including at the proposed marine terminal on the city’s waterfront. Tagami sued the City in Federal court, then filed another suit in Alameda County Superior Court weeks after the City of Oakland announced imminent termination of Tagami’s lease for non-performance of contractual obligations. The matter remains tied up in state court. Settlement talks seemed to be going well in February, but in July Tagami walked away from talks and, through spokesperson Greg McConnell, announced that “coal is back on the table.” The City has indicated it is eager to continue settlement negotiations; if no settlement is reached, the matter is set to go to trial in April 2023.
Where do candidates for Oakland Mayor and City Council stand in 2022?
Candidates in the upcoming November election for Mayor of Oakland and Councilmembers to represent Districts 2, 4, and 6 were asked to sign onto a No Coal Pledge in light of this ongoing threat to the health and safety of Oaklanders – and especially residents of West Oakland, who live closest to the proposed toxic coal terminal and already suffer health disparities from disproportionate pollution in their neighborhood.
Some candidates signed on. Others did not.
The following pledge was crafted by a coalition of organizations strongly opposed to building a coal terminal in Oakland (organizations are listed below). Sign-on was solicited by No Coal in Oakland.
As a candidate for public office in Oakland, I hereby express my strong opposition to allowing storage, handling, or transport of coal and petroleum coke through Oakland. I will do everything I can to support the City of Oakland in its ongoing negotiations to secure a settlement agreement incorporating an enforceable coal prohibition without loopholes in order to prevent current developers/lessees or their successors-in-interest from storing, handling, or transporting coal or petcoke through Oakland’s West Gateway.
In the event the City of Oakland is unable to reach a settlement agreement that precludes any storage, handling, or transport of coal or petcoke in Oakland, I will support the City Attorney’s efforts to pursue every feasible legal strategy to prevent construction or operation of a coal terminal in Oakland.
Candidates for Mayor of Oakland who signed the pledge are: Greg Hodge, Treva Reid, John Reimann, Loren Taylor, Sheng Thao, and Allyssa Victory. Mayoral candidates who did not sign the pledge are: Ignacio De La Fuente, Tyron Jordan* [see Updates, below], Peter Liu, and Seneca Scott.
Candidate for City Council in District 2 Nikki Fortunato Bas signed the pledge. Candidate Harold Lowe did not.
Candidate for City Council in District 4 Janani Ramachadran and Nenna Joiner signed the pledge.
Candidates for City Council in District 6 Kenneth Session, Nancy Sidebotham, and Kevin Jenkins signed the pledge. Candidate Yakpasua Zazaboi did not.
The organizations that participated in creating the pledge — including West Oakland Neighbors, No Coal in Oakland, Youth vs. Apocalypse, Interfaith Council of Alameda County, 350 Bay Area, the Sierra Club (Bay Area Chapter), East Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility, SF Baykeeper, and Faith in Action — are grateful for the strong opposition to a coal terminal in Oakland expressed by those candidates who signed the No Coal Pledge.
UPDATES: Nenna Joiner (candidate for City Council District 4) signed the No Coal Pledge on October 8, 2022, indicating that members of her team failed to bring NCIO’s request to her attention earlier. Kevin Jenkins (candidate for City Council District 6) signed the No Coal Pledge on October 27, 2022, indicating that he had thought he signed NCIO’s pledge earlier. Mayoral candidate Tyron Jordan emailed NCIO on December 30, 2022, indicating that he ” [s]trongly opposed bringing a coal terminal to Oakland.”
All candidates who did not respond to NCIO’s request to sign the No Coal Pledge were contacted multiple times prior to publication of this post. Should any late signons come in, look for updates on the No Coal in Oakland website, at https://nocoalinoakland.info/some-oakland-candidates-declare-opposition-to-coal-others-do-not.