Port of Long Beach's vote to lock in coal exports for another decade

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last week the nation’s first regulation to limit carbon pollution from fossil fueled fired power plants, here in Southern California, the Port of Long Beach has been moving forward to lock in contracts for more than another decade of exporting coal.  For procedural reasons, the Port’s decision-making body, the Board of Harbor Commissioners, has to vote on the agreements twice.  They voted the first time at the end of May, and is going to hold the second vote on Monday, June 9.

As I blogged about here, the agreements are with two companies that handle the Port’s export of coal and some other bulk commodities, the Metropolitan Stevedore Company and Oxbow Carbon.  These agreements require the Port to export 1.7 million metric tons of coal every year for the next five years.  And after five years, the amount of coal required can be increased, without any input from the public.

It is unacceptable for an arm of our government—the Port is an entity of the City of Long Beach—to be in the business of pushing climate-change causing fuels on to other countries.  This is especially true given that every level of our government, from the White House to the State of California and even the City of Long Beach, are advancing increasingly stronger policies to phase off of coal and otherwise reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.  The Port deciding to stay in the business of coal exports flies in the face of our national, state, and local city policies. 

Further, this decision flies in the face of one of our state’s most important environmental laws, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).  CEQA requires agencies like the Port to analyze the environmental impacts of these kinds of decisions, yet the Port has done absolutely zero analysis of the environmental impacts of exporting millions of tons of coal.

I will be at the Port’s vote, Monday night at 6 pm, asking them to say NO to coal, alongside our friends from Earthjustice and the Sierra Club.  The Port proudly calls itself “The Green Port,” but if it keeps exporting coal, I think we should ask them to get a different motto.

The Port of Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting is June 9, at 6 pm, at their new Administrative offices at 4801 Airport Plaza Drive in Long Beach, California.

About the Authors

Morgan Wyenn

Staff Attorney, Climate & Air program

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