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06/28/2016

PSE Healthy Energy applauds Oakland City Council decision to protect health of local residents, ban coal export facility

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact:  
       Daisy Pistey-Lyhne, Director of Communications

daisypl@psehealthyenergy.org, 415-745-1753

 

PSE Healthy Energy applauds Oakland City Council decision to protect health of local residents, ban coal export facility

 

Statement by PSE Healthy Energy Executive Director Seth Shonkoff

 

Oakland, CA (June 28, 2016) – Early this morning, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to ban the transport, storage, and shipping of coal and petroleum coke at the proposed Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal (OBOT) to be built in West Oakland at the former Oakland Army Base. The Council stated that the pollution from the coal would harm workers and residents, and the eventual combustion of the coal would contribute to climate change and more air pollution.

 

PSE's Executive Director, Dr. Seth Shonkoff collaborated with researchers at Human Impact Partners, UC Berkeley and others on an independent study that reviewed the scientific literature on the health, climate, and safety risks of this project. Coal would have been transported by rail from Utah to the Port of Oakland, and then shipped overseas to Asian markets.

 

The study found that transporting coal would increase concentrations of particulate matter (PM2.5 and ultrafines) from coal dust and diesel exhaust in communities along the rail lines, which already suffer from poor air quality. PM2.5 is definitively associated with premature death and many severe medical problems including increases in lung cancer, hospitalization for heart and lung disease, emergency room visits, asthma attacks, adverse birth outcomes, school and work loss and respiratory symptoms. Alongside a separate study by ESA Consulting, and another independent public health review of submitted testimony conducted by Dr. Zoe Chafe, all of the studies clearly concluded that coal shipping and handling would result in high disease and mortality impacts on local residents and workers at the facility.

 

Remarks by PSE Healthy Energy Executive Director Seth Shonkoff:


"I applaud the Oakland City Council for their strong leadership in protecting the health of the West Oakland community and communities all along the rail line where coal would be transported, handled and exported. The science on the public health impacts of exposure to coal dust and products of coal combustion, such as particulate matter and toxic heavy metals, unambiguously shows that these contribute to disease and mortality, particularly among our country's most vulnerable communities living close to facilities where these are present. The City of Oakland is already an emerging leader in clean, renewable energy, and is continuing to implement technologies to abate toxic air contamination and greenhouse pollution. The scientific evidence strongly supports the City's decision to stay focused on a clean future for their community by avoiding this project. This decision will have positive impacts for the health of the people of West Oakland, communities throughout California, and the entire global population."

 

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PSE Healthy Energy is a non-profit energy science and policy research institute dedicated to supplying evidence-based, scientific and technical information and resources on the public health, environmental and climate dimensions of energy production and use. Our work predominantly focuses on unconventional oil and gas development, renewable energy, and energy storage. No other interdisciplinary collaboration of physicians, scientists, and engineers exists to focus specifically on health and sustainability at the intersection of energy science and policy.



PDF version of press release available here.

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