If coal is indeed king, it is the lord of a shrinking realm, which ought to be good news for the environment. With the nation’s electricity production shifting to cleaner sources of power, U.S. coal consumption is declining.
But here’s a problem: As major coal-mining companies watch their sales diminish domestically, they are struggling to find export markets in which they can continue to do business. And what have we really gained if coal that the U.S. doesn’t use just gets shipped to other countries for them to burn?
That’s the question that needs to be answered as officials consider a proposal to build a new coal port in Oakland as part of the conversion of a decommissioned Army base. There are a lot of problems with the proposal, which we’ll get to, but just from an environmental standpoint, it is a bad idea.
Earth is teetering on — and may already be falling off — the edge of a cliff that will lead to catastrophic changes in the environment. Rising seas. Species extinctions. Collapsed ecosystems and fluctuating food security for humans. The culprit: humans, and our reliance on carbon-spewing fossil fuels.
The absolute worst of those is coal. So if we’re serious about combating global warming and its attendant environmental disasters, why make it easier for other countries to continue down the coal-burning path?
he proposal arises from the redevelopment of the decommissioned, 330-acre Oakland Army Base at the foot of the Bay Bridge. The California Capital and Investment Group, with which the city of Oakland contracted in 2012, proposed to build a 30-acre Oakland Bulk and Oversize Terminal to handle alfalfa, grain, potash, wind turbine parts and other products.
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