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Oakland city council votes down coal exports

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The Oakland city council voted unanimously to bar shipments of coal through a proposed marine terminal on Monday, setting the stage for a legal battle.

The prospect of train cars carrying millions of tons of coal mined in Utah through Oakland before heading to Asian markets has inflamed passions in the city.

Opponents argue it will harm health and exacerbate climate change. Proponents say it will provide good jobs in an impoverished area.

“Oaklanders know it’s a false choice to say we have to pick between jobs and this community’s health and safety,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, a leading opponent to the shipments, said before the vote.

Jerry Bridges, president of Terminal Logistics Solutions, which would operate the facility, said banning a legal commodity like coal sends the wrong signal about Oakland.

“This type of regulation is not necessary, it kills jobs, and it does not protect the image of our city as being open for business and growth,” he told the council.

A lawsuit is expected from businesses associated with shipping the coal and petroleum coke through the terminal.

Environmental groups in 2015 sued to stop construction of the terminal, which is proposed for a former U.S. Army base.

Editing by Nick Macfie