Capitol Alert

Brown acts to block state money for coal terminals

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the passage of a measure for a 10-year extension of the state's landmark climate change law during a news conference, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif.
Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the passage of a measure for a 10-year extension of the state's landmark climate change law during a news conference, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. AP

Gov. Jerry Brown, urging local governments and the state to eventually eliminate coal shipments through California ports, signed legislation on Friday prohibiting the California Transportation Commission from funding new bulk-terminal projects.

Brown, who has made climate change a priority of his administration, said in a signing statement that “action on multiple fronts will be necessary to transition away from coal.”

“In California, we’re divesting from thermal coal in our state pensions, shifting to renewable energy and, last year, coal exports from California ports declined by more than one-third, from 4.65 million to 2.96 million tons,” Brown said. “That’s a positive trend we need to build on.”

Senate Bill 1279, by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, gained Brown’s signature after the Oakland City Council voted in June to block coal shipments in its city.

“The city of Oakland took an important step recently by thoroughly documenting the health and safety risks and climate impacts of coal and specifically banning its shipment through the city,” Brown said. “Other localities should follow suit – and the state should too – to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate the shipment of coal through all California ports.”

Opponents of the bill include the League of California Cities. They objected to singling out one commodity and said the bill might violate U.S. treaty obligations.

Utah currently exports coal through the ports of Richmond, Stockton and Long Beach, according to a legislative analysis.

The bill was part of a package of coal shipment measures by Hancock.

Among those that failed was SB 1277, which was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee earlier this month. That bill would have required officials to perform a more rigorous environmental review of coal shipments through the Bulk and Oversized Terminal in Oakland.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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