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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Letter to the Tattler: Jess Dervin-Ackerman

The following letter was received from Emeryville resident Jess Dervin-Ackerman:

Dear Emeryville Tattler,
I know most folks have heard about the dangers of oil trains rolling through our town, but now there is a proposal to bring huge amounts of another dirty fossil fuel through Emeryville by rail.
The developer of the former Oakland Army Base is currently pursuing a plan to receive, and then export, up to nine million tons of coal per year. If Oakland allows the developer to move forward with this plan, it would mean long, dusty coal trains through our communities and compromising health, worker safety, and climate security.
This could bring up to 12 mile-long trains full of toxic coal through Emeryville each week on the journey from the mines in Utah to the export terminal located just south of the Bay Bridge toll plaza. On the journey from the mine to the export terminal, these mile long uncovered coal trains spew off thousands of pounds of coal dust into the communities along the rail lines. Toxic coal dust is linked to decreased lung capacity, increased childhood bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, emphysema, and heart disease. For Emeryville and other communities along the I-80 corridor, adding more toxic particulate matter to the air would mean more trips to the hospital, more kids with asthma, and shorter lifespans for too many people. Port workers will also be hurt by this proposal; individuals who have prolonged exposure to coal at the export facility would suffer an even greater health risk.

In addition to local health and safety impacts, this proposal takes us backwards in our decades of leadership on environmental stewardship and climate action. California has worked hard to be coal-free — but while the Governor and state legislature are setting aggressive carbon-reduction targets, this terminal would allow the most carbon-polluting fuel to be brought to market, with devastating consequences. From extraction to transport to burning for fuel, coal leeches toxic chemicals into communities and the environment causing climate disruption and deadly diseases. Don’t let Big Coal exploit the Bay Area's economy, health, and environment.
Oakland City Council has the power to stop this proposal to bring dangerous fossil fuels through the East Bay. Join us in fighting this disastrous plan by signing this petition and rallying against coal exports in front of Oakland City Hall at 5pm on Tuesday, July 21st.

Jess Dervin-Ackerman lives on Park Ave in Emeryville is a supporter of Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE) and is the Conservation Manager for the Sierra Club’s San Francisco Bay Chapter


  1. Environmental activists have been resisting coal trains in Washington State, British Colombia, and North Carolina, Exporting coal from the Port of Oakland looks like a quarterback sneak. Perhaps the coal and railroad industries can devise a way to cover the cars, and thus eliminate the dust problem. I imagine there are some inventive young thinkers right here in Emeryville who could work that one out..

    1. The dust part of the problem could likely be solved as you say. It's the part where the corporate profits are diminished in service to that solution is where we're going to find a lack of cooperation. I can't imagine the corporations involved are going to do anything but seek to maximize their profits in every way possible.....unless they're forced of course.