Over the past few months, there’s been a discussion about the export of coal in Oakland. On March 10, Utah’s state legislature passed a bill to invest $51 million in taxpayer dollars to create a coal shipping port near Jack London Square. The bill has yet to go through Utah governor Gary Herbert and the Oakland City Council.
Before the bill is passed in Utah, there has been criticism about the export of coal in Oakland, from its environmental concerns, to its social harm to the Oakland community. Community members have protested and attended Oakland City Council meetings to express their anger about this matter. California senator Loni Hancock has even proposed four bills to stop the export from happening.
So, what does The Campanil feel about this?
First of all, we felt a variety of emotions about this matter, from surprise to worry to frustration. California has worked tremendously to be a clean state. From this, The Campanil notices the lack of an elaborate and extensive environmental report on the effects of coal in Oakland. The Sierra Club chapter in the San Francisco Bay Area composed a fact sheet that has done a better job of discussing the negative impacts from coal at Oakland City Council meetings.
We feel that the export of coal in Oakland takes advantage of a community that is already struggling with gentrification and displacement. Beyond the environmental issues that come along with exporting coal, we feel that this action is quite problematic and despicable.
We also question which neighborhoods will be primarily affected if exporting coal in Oakland is allowed. According to Alameda County health officials, the fear of exporting coal in Oakland can potentially put citizens in West Oakland – a part of Oakland that holds many low-income residents – at risk for respiratory illnesses. The health risks for this plays a role in environmental racism in Oakland, not only displacing those low-income Oakland residents, but also placing them in harm’s way.
As community members of Oakland, we feel that any thing that could potentially harm others does not have a place here. The export of coal in Oakland is one of those issues that could harm us environmentally and physically. It is up to us to stop this from happening, ranging from participation in community meetings, voting and even peaceful protests.