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California City Votes to Shut Crucial Port to U.S. Coal Exports

Tom Butt, Mayor of Richmond, CA would like to see coal banned everywhere

Bloomberg, January 15, 2020

(Bloomberg)—A critical route for American coal exports to Asia is drying up after yet another U.S. port city passed a law to bar the fuel from leaving its shores.

Lawmakers in Richmond, California, on late Tuesday, voted to impose a ban on coal, targeting a terminal that handles about a quarter of exports from the U.S. West Coast.

Photo of a coal terminal with crane in foreground, trains with coal carriers and other industrial buildings.
A train loaded with coal approaches the Levin-Richmond Terminal in Richmond in 2015. A vote by the city council on Tuesday gives businesses three years to phase out coal and petroleum coke shipments out of the port, which is privately owned. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle 2015

Richmond is joining several West Coast cities that have prohibited shipping the fossil fuel through their ports, choking off key routes to one of the few coal markets in the world still growing. As utilities burn less coal in the U.S., environmentalists and lawmakers see the ordinances barring exports as a way to both limit local pollution from coal dust and reduce greenhouse gases globally.

“I’ve got bigger ambitions than just Richmond,” Mayor Tom Butt said in an interview. “I’d like to get rid of coal worldwide.”

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