By George Bao Aug. 26, 2016
SACRAMENTO – California governor Jerry Brown Friday signed into law Senator Loni Hancock’s bill to halt future state funding for any new project that would allow coal to be shipped or exported through California.
Brown took the move less than 48 hours after the California Senate passed Senate Bill 1279.
“When I introduced this measure, many people thought a coal-export terminal in West Oakland was a done deal,” Hancock, D-Oakland, said, referring to Senate Bill 1279.
“Today, people can breathe easier knowing that beginning in January no coal-related projects will receive state funding.”
Brown, in his signing message, praised state efforts to transition away from coal.
“In California, we’re divesting away 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.”
Specifically, SB 1279 will bar the California Transportation Commission from allocating state funds for new coal-related projects.
Effective Jan. 1, 2017, Hancock’s measure only applies to future projects and would not affect existing projects that plan to improve safety, rehabilitation, congestion reduction, modernization or maintenance.
Hancock introduced her bill in February after she learned that a proposed development project on city-owned land in Oakland would export up to 10 million tons of coal annually to China and other Asian countries. At present, California exports less than 3 million tons annually.
Hancock said she felt compelled to introduce legislation to close loopholes in the law and ensure that other cities will not face similar problems in the future.