Organized by No Coal in Richmond, other environmental groups and SEIU Local 1021
By Janet Johnson
A public rally was held Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. in front City Hall in Richmond to oppose the Terminal and allied groups’ attempts to buy seats on the Richmond City Council. It was attended by about 35 people. The Levin-Richmond Terminal Corporation has so far donated $25,000 to city council candidates – including Vinay Pimplé, Eleanor Thompson, and Ahmad Anderson – whom it hopes will vote to overturn the ordinance phasing out coal and petroleum coke storage and handling at the Terminal. In addition, the company gave the maximum allowable contribution directly to Anderson’s campaign. The current city council adopted the ordinance after a successful two-year campaign by No Coal in Richmond, health professionals, and other environmental and community groups. Now, the Levin-Richmond Terminal has joined developers and others in trying to buy seats on the Richmond City Council.
Election buying in Richmond is nothing new. The city has suffered for decades as big industries have poured money into campaigns for candidates who will support their interests, including Chevron’s unsuccessful attempt to buy 2014 city races. However, No Coal in Richmond and allies from Alliance of Californians for Community Action (ACCE Action) the Sunflower Alliance, Asian Pacific Environmental Network Action (APEN Action), Communities for a Better Environment Action (CBE Action), and SEIU Local 1021 are actively opposing this attempt to subvert the political process.
According to the No Coal in Richmond website: “Toxic dust from coal and petroleum coke (pet coke) is polluting our neighborhoods. Richmond CA residents living and working near the Levin-Richmond Terminal see this dust outside on our cars and windowsills. What we don’t see are the microscopic harmful substances going deep into our lungs. They’re in the air we breathe, in our homes, and where we work and play.
Richmond residents and workers cannot continue to be exposed to high levels of toxic coal and pet coke dust. We already suffer from elevated levels of asthma, heart disease, and other health problems caused by bad air quality.
To make Richmond a healthier place to live, we need to end the storage and handling of coal and pet coke at the Levin-Richmond Terminal.
The Richmond Coal Ordinance establishes a fair process, gradually phasing out coal and poisonous petroleum coke and relying on the city’s legal authority to protect us.”