Judge Grants New Life to Oakland Port Development, Allowing Potential Coal Shipments

Oakland, California – A judge has granted developer Phil Tagami a new lease on a port development in Oakland, a project that has been at the center of a long-running battle over the storage of coal in the city. The decision extends Tagami’s ground lease until summer 2026, allowing him to proceed with the construction of a 34-acre marine terminal and potentially ship coal from the port. The court ruled in favor of Tagami, stating that Oakland unfairly terminated its lease agreement with him, citing missed deadlines that were beyond his control. The city had taken actions to ban coal from Oakland, which led to these unforeseen circumstances.

This decision has significant implications for environmental advocates who are concerned about the potential negative effects of coal shipments on air pollution in West Oakland. The local community already faces high levels of air pollution, with asthma rates being twice as high as the rest of Alameda County. The presence of coal dust in the air could exacerbate this issue. Despite the judge’s ruling, the city has already appealed the decision, and it is unclear how this will affect the construction timeline for the terminal.

Tagami, who has been involved in the project for a decade, has reiterated his commitment to seeing the terminal through to construction. However, he has stated that the decision to ship coal would be made by Insight Terminal Solutions, the firm responsible for managing shipments from the terminal. The damages offered to Tagami were significantly lower than what his company had initially calculated, highlighting the contentious nature of the dispute.

Insight Terminal Solutions, now under the control of JMB Capital, stepped in after Tagami’s previous partner went bankrupt. The stakeholders behind the Oakland terminal were previously linked to coal executives in Utah, where funding was provided for the project. In a previous legal battle, a federal court ruled that there was little evidence to support claims that coal dust from train cars would directly lead to air pollution.

Despite this ruling, environmental advocates are not giving up the fight. They believe that the strong community opposition to the project will deter developers and financiers from getting involved. The battle over the Oakland port development continues, with both sides adamant about their positions.