Archive for Coal in Oakland

No Coal in Oakland

2-16-16 ministers in front of city hall 2

Statement by Rev. Laurie Manning, pastor of Skyline Church UCC-Oakland Hills, and UCC Northern California representative for Environmental Justice at the no-coal-in-Oakland press conference outside City Hall Tues, Feb 16, 2016:

We’re all familiar with “the Golden Rule.” It’s a universal principal, an ethic of reciprocity that teaches: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It teaches us to care about our neighbors.  Who doesn’t care about the kid down the street, or down the hill breathing dirty air?

As Flint Michigan reminds us, environmental toxins particularly impact poor children of color, globally, & locally. West Oakland has many parallels to Flint. (%90 black & Latino, where residents already experience high rates of poverty and unemployment).2-16-16 Coal Nancy Laurie David

This is a local health issue. The children of West Oakland are already contending with fumes & noise from the Port. We need to ask ourselves, what if it were our own children?  

Now the proponents of the coal partnership in Oakland argue that it is bringing a $52 million investment and will bring almost $3 mill in annual property taxes and 2300 jobs.

But at what cost? What cost to the environment: excavating coal in Utah, transporting it here by rail, & shipping it by ocean to be burned in China? What cost to human lives in every step of the coal production process:  the health risks to those most vulnerable; the miners in Utah; the residents of West Oakland; and those who breathe the air in China? 

I’m so proud of Governor Brown, and his global leadership in environmental justice. Speaking out in Paris, and at 2-16-16 Becky? at CouncilVatican, Governor Brown echoed the global scientific community’s unanimous pleas to leave 90% of fossil fuels in ground. Why would we want to be complicit in prolonging and accelerating this environmental and humanitarian health crisis?

Furthermore, besides the moral argument, there’s an economic argument.  It’s a bad investment for Oakland. The demand for coal and the coal industry are rapidly failing. Why would Oakland want to invest, even in the short term, as major coal companies are going bankrupt? As Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize economist, has recently noted, “fossil fuels 2-16-16 Laurie at Councilare the way of past, renewables are way in the future – if we care about the future, we care about switching.”

Finally, there’s the voice of the people. According to the recent Sierra Club survey, 76% of Oakland residents are against coal in the port. 

Surely, there are healthier and safer long term sources of jobs and revenue that will benefit all of the people of Oakland.

Coal in Oakland & Refugees from Central America

2-16-16 ministers in front of city hall 2On Tuesday evening members and friends of Skyline’s Green Team joined hundreds of others to take part in Oakland City Hall’s ongoing discussions about approving a coal distribution center in the port. There will be an interfaith vigil, and undoubtedly, a long evening of discussions. 

I lift up thanks to the great collective sense of civic responsibility involved in these meetings, and even more, in our collective efforts to transition to renewable energy sources.  

The outcome of Tuesday’s meeting is that the City Council did delay the vote on taking the next step to bring coal through Oakland.Here’s a video of Laurie speaking at the press conference Here’s CBS Bay Area’s news report from last night.

I’d like to share with you some quotes on the UCC’s stand and long history involved in the environmental justice movement. 

This Sunday, Rev Deborah Lee will be joining us to share stories about the refugees from Central America and Dleeways in which faith communities, including ours, are offering support to refugees and their families.  After worship she and her colleague, Daniel Pinell, will share stories about the underlying causes. 

Thank you, Skyline for your compassionate hearts and voices!

Don’t Ship Coal Through Oakland

dreamstime_Coal trainWhy Rev. Laurie is against coal in the Port of Oakland..

The “Golden rule” of all the world’s religions teaches us to care about our neighbors.  Who doesn’t care about the kid down the street breathing dirty air?

As Flint has made us all aware, these are matters that particularly impact poor children of color. West Oakland has many parallels. This is a local health issue, especially for the children of West Oakland who are already contending with fumes & noise from the heavy volume of diesel trucks & other pollution from the port. What if it were your children?  Jess Dervin-Ackerman of the Sierra Club points out that “major organizing victories squashing export proposals in Oregon and Washington mean that Big Coal has turned its sights on California.  Bay Area communities are already burdened by poor air quality caused by our five oil refineries and the shipping industry. We even have some coal snaking through our neighborhoods by rail and shipping out of a private terminal in Richmond. Now Oakland is in Big Coal’s crosshairs.”

It’s a bad investment for Oakland, for both the short term and the long term.  The coal industry is rapidly failing, and demand is rapidly falling. Why would you want to invest in something going in the wrong direction, even in the short term, as major coal companies are going bankrupt? We’re living in a time when you can make good financial arguments about it. Things have really shifted because, in many states, renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuel . The second line of defense from the fossil fuel industry is denial, and the first line of defense is money – it’s going to cost us too much. However, as  Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize economist, has recently noted, fossil fuels are way of past, renewals are way in the future – if we care about the future, we care about switching.

In 1987 the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice published an explosive report entitled Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States. People of color, especially African-Americans, the report demonstrated, are the most likely victims of industrial pollution. Based on the findings, Reverend Ben Chavis helped launch the movement against “environmental racism.”

 “Environmental racism is racial discrimination in environmental policymaking. It is racial discrimination in the enforcement of regulations and laws. It is racial disccrimination in the deliberate targeting of communities of color for toxic waste disposal and the siting of polluting industries. It is racial discrimination in the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in communities of color. And, it is racial discrimination in the history of excluding people of color from mainstream environmental groups, decision-making boards, commissions, and regulatory bodies.”

– Rev. Benjamin Chavis, Jr.

“Environmental justice advocates are not saying, ‘Take the poisons out of our community and put them in a white community.’ They are saying that no community should have to live with these poisons. They have thus taken the moral high road and are building a multicultural and inclusive movement that has the potential of transforming the political landscape of this nation.”

– Benjamin Chavis, Jr.

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