Developer sues Oakland over coal shipment ban

OAKLAND (BCN) -- The developer of a marine terminal that's being built at the former Oakland Army Base has made good on his threat to sue the City of Oakland over its decision to ban coal shipments through the city.

Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal LLC, owned by local developer Phil Tagami, claims the ban runs afoul of the federal government's ability to regulate interstate commerce.

At its June meeting, the City Council voted to approve both a permanent ban on the transport, transloading, handling and storage of coal and petroleum coke at bulk materials facilities or terminals in Oakland and to specifically ban the handling and storage of coal at the new terminal.

At the time, David C. Smith, an attorney for the developer, warned the City Council that their decision would violate the terms of a 2013 development agreement approved by the city.

He wrote that a coal-ban would expose the city to "hundreds of millions of dollars in liability."

A phalanx of environmental groups issued a statement today condemning the suit and vowing to help the city protect the coal-ban.

"We plan to stand shoulder to shoulder with the City to make sure that this terminal never ships coal," Jessica Yarnall Loarie, a lawyer with the Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, said in a statement.