Tag Archives: Oakland City Counci

Oakland City Council votes to oppose coal, crude oil trains

Repost from Reuters
[Editor: See also “Oakland City Council Votes to Divest from Fossil Fuel Companies”  – RS]

Oakland City Council votes to oppose coal, crude oil trains

By Rory Carroll, San Francisco, June 18, 2014

(Reuters) – The Oakland City Council has unanimously backed a resolution opposing the use of the city’s rail lines to transport crude oil and coal, a move that supporters hope will call attention to proposed projects that would sharply increase the amount of such cargo rolling through the densely populated city.

The resolution will not halt crude oil trains from entering Oakland since U.S. railroads are federally regulated, but backers hope it will stoke debate about plans for export facilities that would boost demand.

Backers of the resolution are particularly concerned about a proposed upgrade to Phillips 66’s Santa Maria refinery that would allow it to take in more crude oil from North Dakota on trains that would pass by rail through Oakland.

They are also worried about the redevelopment of the Oakland Army Base, which includes the building of a commodities facility that they believe will be used to export coal. The coal would also be moved through the city by rail.

“These proposed export facilities are a serious threat to Oakland and the East Bay communities,” said Jess Dervin-Ackerman of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club.

“If oil and coal companies have their way, the Bay Area will become the biggest fossil fuel export hub on the West Coast,” she said.

The fuels will not be consumed in the Bay Area, she added, but would just pass through the area on their way to overseas markets.

California has in recent years seen a surge in crude oil arriving by rail on the back of an oil boom in North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation and in Canada, prompting safety and environmental concerns.

Crude oil-by-rail shipments into California increased from about 70 rail tanker carloads in 2009 to nearly 9,500 carloads in 2013, according to state regulators. They are projected to soar in the next few years.

Last July, 47 people were killed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a freight train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and exploded. Since then, there have been a number of fiery derailments in the United States that have caused environmental damage, but no fatalities.

Separately, the Oakland City Council on Tuesday night unanimously passed a resolution to divest money from city employees from fossil fuel companies, although none of that money is currently invested in those types of businesses.

The move is intended to put pressure on the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), which does hold such investments, to follow suit.

CalPERS is one of the country’s largest managers of public pensions, with $288 billion in retiree assets under management. (Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by G Crosse)

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    Oakland City Council Votes to Divest from Fossil Fuel Companies

    Via email from 350.org
    [Editor: See also “Oakland City Council votes to oppose coal, crude oil trains”  – RS]

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  – June 17, 2014

    Oakland City Council Votes to Divest from Fossil Fuel Companies 

    Oakland becomes 5th California city to divest; Council, 350.org urge CalPERS to act

    Oakland, California  — The Oakland City Council today unanimously approved a measure divesting city funds from all investments in any company “whose primary business or enterprise is extraction, production, refining, burning and/or distribution of any fossil fuels.” The council recommended that city pension funds also divest and urged the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), one of the nation’s largest managers of public pensions, with $288 billion in retiree assets under management, to follow suit and eliminate fossil fuel companies from their portfolios.

    Oakland becomes the fifth city in California to pass a fossil fuel divestment resolution and the 25th city in the nation, joining the ranks of San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.  “I’m thrilled that Oakland City Council took a strong stand to divest from fossil fuels companies that emit heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and to protect our communities by opposing the transport of hazardous fossil fuels by rail through the heart of Oakland,” said Dan Kalb, Oakland City Councilmember, and author of the Council resolutions. “Divesting from a dirty energy economy will add Oakland’s voice to a growing movement that makes it clear that the old way of fueling our economy is not sustainable for our cities and our planet.”

    The move is part of a fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement, which has spread to over 500 campuses, cities, faith communities, labor unions and pension funds around the nation, calling on institutions to take bold action against climate change by aligning investments with a clean and equitable energy future. So far, 12 colleges and universities, 27 cities, two counties, 30 religious institutions, and 27 foundations in the U.S. and around the world have pledged to divest or have done so already.

    Ophir Bruck, an Oakland resident and organizer with Fossil Free UC, the University of California divestment campaign, said Oakland’s action could embolden the Board of Regents of the nation’s leading public university to act: “This move positions Oakland as a climate leader and should encourage the UC Regents, who are exploring the possibility of divesting UC’s $88 billion portfolio from fossil fuels, to stand on the right side of history by divesting for our future.”

    Efforts on the measure were spearheaded by 350 Bay Area, a regional group aligned with the international climate change organization 350.org, which supports fossil fuel divestment efforts worldwide via its Go Fossil Free campaign.

    Added Oakland resident and 350 East Bay divestment activist Janet Cox: “I was really glad to the Council take a strong stand in support of the environment and the fight to halt devastating damage to the climate. Governments and NGOs are going to have to act if we’re going to survive climate change, and this resolution puts Oakland in the vanguard. Oakland will be able to lead on this critical issue.”

    ###

    Media Contacts:

    Ophir Bruck, 415-609-2409, ophirbruck@gmail.com, Divestment Organizer with Fossil Free UC and the California Student Sustainability Coalition

    Jay Carmona, 510-502-0752, jay@350.org, National Divestment Director

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