Coal terminal plan pits jobs against environmental concerns


A scheduled vote in Northern California is expected to decide whether to ban rail shipments of coal over concerns it would pose a public health or safety hazard.

A yes vote Monday by the Oakland City Council could scuttle the plan to build a marine terminal that would serve as a gateway for Utah coal heading to Asia. Detractors highlight the environmental dangers of bringing millions of tons of coal through the area while supporters tout the economic benefits.

Jerry Bridges, chief executive of the potential marine terminal operator, says jobs are the biggest issue and any environmental impact will be mitigated by transporting coal in covered rail cars that are unloaded underground. On the other side is the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which opposes the shipment of coal.

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