California City Bans Coal Exports at Behest of Environmentalists

(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) American coal exporters can no longer send their products to Asia via Richmond, Calif., after the city voted to join other West coast cities in blocking coal exports.

The Richmond City Council voted Tuesday to impose the ban, eliminating a hub responsible for about 25 percent of the West Coast’s exports, The Los Angeles Times reported.

“I’ve got bigger ambitions than just Richmond,” Mayor Tom Butt said in an interview. “I’d like to get rid of coal worldwide.”

Oakland, Calif. banned coal exports, too. Oregon and Washington have resisted attempts by coal exporters to build ports.

Eliminating coal worldwide would lead to energy shortages in developing nations such as China and India that rely heavily on the natural resource.

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Now that the United States relies less on coal and more on petroleum and natural gas, environmental activists are targeting coal exports in their effort to limit global carbon dioxide emissions.

Richmond lawmakers aimed to shutdown the Levin-Richmond Terminal Corp, a port that shipped nearly 1 million metric tons of coal to Japan and South Korea in 2018, The Los Angeles Times reported.

The port has three years to discontinue coal exports.

Gary Levin, CEO of Levin-Richmond Terminal Corp, said he may sue, since Richmond’s ordinance will force his company to shut down.

Mayor Butt postponed the vote, which was initially scheduled for December, so that he could negotiate with Levin, but they could not compromise.

Minda Berbeco, director of the San Francisco Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, praised Richmond’s ban on coal exports.

“Communities are pushing back on toxic and polluting coal exports,” she said. “No one wants to live with coal dust coating their homes and cars.”

A legal challenge would likely focus on Richmond’s ability to regulate commerce, according to Ashley Burke, a spokeswoman for the National Mining Association.

“Local governments, working with activist environmental groups, cannot be allowed to obstruct and steer interstate and foreign commerce decisions on behalf of the country,” Burke said in an email, Bloomberg reported.