California Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill Banning Coal-Export Funding

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday banning state transportation funding for new coal export terminals.

The bill represents a victory for environmentalists as they campaign aggressively to block shipments of coal from the West Coast to energy-hungry markets in Asia.

The legislation was introduced in response to a developer’s failed proposal to build a coal terminal in Oakland. The project would have involved funding from the state of Utah, which hoped to create jobs in an economically depressed area of the state.

RELATED: Oakland City Council Bans Coal Shipments, Blocking Utah Plan

Environmentalists say exporting coal from the U.S. would discourage China and other Asian countries from investing in cleaner technology, exacerbating global warming.

“Coal is an antiquated industry and we need to accept that as a reality and not think otherwise,” said Dan Kalb, an Oakland City Council member who opposed the coal terminal.

Brown has been vocal in calling for aggressive action to combat climate change but had avoided weighing in on the proposed Oakland coal facility. Brown, a Democrat and a former mayor of Oakland, is friends with the developer, Phil Tagami.

Larry Kamer, a spokesman for Tagami, declined to comment on the governor’s action.

In a letter to lawmakers, Brown said the state and local governments should seek to reduce and ultimately eliminate coal shipments through all California ports.

“I believe action on multiple fronts will be necessary to transition away from coal,” he wrote.

Coal from Utah is currently shipped through ports in Richmond, Stockton and Long Beach.

SB1279, which applies to projects proposed after Jan. 1, 2017, will prohibit state transportation funds – a key source of money for port construction – from being used to expand those facilities or build new ones involving coal shipments.

Critics of the legislation say it may violate federal law and treaties, and they object to coal being treated differently from other commodities.

The debate over coal has grown increasingly contentious across the West Coast, setting up tense battles between environmentalists and communities seeking jobs in coal-producing western states.

With declining demand for coal in the United States, companies in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and elsewhere want to ship instead to Asia.

“Today, people can breathe easier knowing that beginning in January no coal-related projects will receive state funding,” said state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, who introduced the anti-coal legislation.


AP writer Janie Har in San Francisco contributed to this report.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.


One Comment

  1. Ginny Foos says:

    Even though this law will have absolutely no impact on how much coal gets sent to and used in China There are actually Ports in Oregon, Washington, Vancouver and Mexico, I’m So glad the Governor of California decided to make sure that poor, already under served areas like Stockton and Richmond, are given a clear choice of turning away much needed customers, revenue and development or being cut-off of funds from a state that already transfers much of their property taxes to “more important” cities who have more representation in the state legislature to keep the “important kids” educated and safe.

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