FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 15, 2018
DESPITE COURT RULING, OAKLAND COAL PORT STILL INAPPROPRIATE USE OF CIB FUNDS
Salt Lake City, UT – Earlier today, a federal judge overturned Oakland’s ban on the shipment of coal through its city boundaries. The ban was put in place in 2016 after the city council found that such shipments would pose substantial dangers to the health and safety of Oakland residents. The Utah State Legislature had previously shuffled around Permanent Community Impact Board Funds to allow an investment of $53 million in the construction of the port.
Chase Thomas, policy and advocacy counsel for Alliance for a Better Utah and one of a few Utahns who traveled to Oakland in 2016 to testify before the Oakland City Council in favor of the ban, issued the following statement in response.
“While we are extremely disappointed in this ruling as a matter of law, our larger concern remains the inappropriateness of using funds from the Permanent Community Impact Board to invest in an out-of-state port development project. These funds were designed to mitigate the impact of extractive industries on the affected communities, not to further the development of these industries or to make them more profitable for their owners. We believe there are a number of better uses to which this $53 million could be directed–all one has to do is attend a meeting of the CIB and hear communities’ consistent pleas for more funds for water systems, fire trucks, and other such essential needs.
“We will be monitoring this situation as it develops to ensure that this money, which belongs to Utah and should be reinvested in Utah, is not directed, once again, toward such an inappropriate, ill-conceived, and possibly illegal use of public funds.”
Alliance for a Better Utah is a good government advocacy and watchdog organization based in Salt Lake City. The organization works to improve the lives of all Utahns by ensuring balance, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government. More information at www.betterutah.org.