Mayor Tom Butt among 11 East Bay mayors backing letter opposing coal shipments

coal is shipped and stored at the Oakland facility, many anticipate it will be carted on trains from Utah through Sacramento, Richmond, Berkeley and Oakland to be shipped to Asia.

Mayors of 11 East Bay cities — including Richmond Mayor Tom Butt — have sent a letter urging Oakland leaders to reject coal shipments from an Oakland marine terminal that’s currently under development.

The mayors said health impacts of shipping coal from the new terminal, which the city’s council approved in 2012, was not addressed in an environmental review. They fear coal bound for the Oakland terminal will be shipped by rail through multiple cities including Richmond and Berkeley.

“If you don’t stop what would be the largest coal terminal on the West Coast of the U.S. the health and safety impacts would be severe, not just for Oakland but also for our communities and for the world,” the mayors said in the letter.

Rail transport of coal will release dust and diesel emissions into neighborhoods already burdened by the health impacts of industry, the mayors added.

The debate has also moved to Sacramento. On Tuesday, a state senate committee voted in favor of Sen. Loni Hancock‘s legislation requiring a new environmental report coal transport at the Oakland terminal, which will reportedly create 2,000 jobs. More on that bill in the East Bay Times.

In May of last year, Richmond, also impacted by rail and port activity, passed a two-part resolution opposing rail transport of coal and petroleum coke along California waterways and through populated cities. The city has also been fighting efforts to prevent shipments of crude oil over the risk of derailments and explosions.

“We sincerely urge you — for the sake of all of us and the planet — to take action to reject the coal plan and protect the health and safety of our communities,” the mayors said.

Along with Mayor Butt, signing the letter were Mayors Peter Maass of Albany, Tom Bates of Berkeley, Greg Lyman of El Cerrito, Dianne Martinez of Emeryville, David Haubert of Dublin, Bill Harrison of Fremont, Barbara Halliday of Hayward, John Marchand of Livermore, Pauline Cutter of San Leandro and Carol Dutra-Vernaci of Union City.

Bay City News contributed to this report