Interview: Oakland torn between coal cash and good health

Oct 20, 2015

There’s a big controversy developing west of the new mural at the site of the former Oakland Army Base. It’s a plan to develop the waterfront, in part, as a port where coal from Utah can be shipped overseas. 

The project, called “Oakland Global,” is being developed by longtime Oakland businessman and sometime political appointee, Phil Tagami, along with a company called Terminal Logistics Solutions. Exporting coal could generate nearly three million dollars in annual property taxes and thousands of jobs, according to Tagami. And there is a huge potential market: over 40 percent of the world’s electricity is generated by coal.

But the idea of running fossil fuels through a community that already suffers from elevated levels of asthma and other health conditions is extremely unpopular with many residents, the Sierra Club, the Alameda Labor Council, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. She sent an email to Tagami saying, “We will not have coal shipped through our city.”

Reporter Darwin BondGraham has been covering this story for the East Bay Express.

A lot of lawyers are definitely swarming around Oakland right now and looking closely at this issue because there is really billions of dollars at stake in the long term.

Click the audio player above to listen to the complete interview.