Attorney General Bonta Announces Settlement to Protect Environmental Justice Communities in West Oakland

Thursday, September 28, 2023
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a settlement with the Port of Oakland (Port) and Eagle Rock Aggregates, Inc. (Eagle Rock) regarding the planned construction of a new 18-acre marine terminal less than one mile from the West Oakland community. Known as the Eagle Rock Aggregates Terminal project (Eagle Rock project), the marine terminal will be used for aggregate stockpiling and distribution. Aggregates are the raw materials used for construction projects, such as sand and gravel. On August 3, 2022, Attorney General Bonta intervened in a lawsuit filed by the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), a local environmental justice organization, alleging that the Port's approval of the Eagle Rock project on February 24, 2022 violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in several ways. Through settlement negotiations alongside WOEIP, Attorney General Bonta has secured binding commitments to mitigate the Eagle Rock project’s air quality impacts and provide other benefits for West Oakland residents. 

“For too long, environmental concerns raised by West Oakland residents have not been heeded. The Bureau of Environmental Justice within my office exists to right those wrongs, and today is proof that our efforts are making a positive difference," said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Thanks to our settlement, and to the many contributions made by the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, the West Oakland community will finally be getting the types of mitigation measures it desperately needs and deserves for the Eagle Rock project. This, however, is not the end. I will continue fighting for the West Oakland community, and others like it, going forward."

"For generations West Oakland families have suffered some of the highest levels of asthma and respiratory disease in the state due to the pollution spewed by the freight industry. The Port of Oakland has been at the center of that industry,” said Brian Beveridge, co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project. “State environmental regulators, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and Attorney General Bonta all expressed concern about this project, and the Attorney General stood by our community in our fight to clean up this new facility. This is what environmental justice really looks like. We thank the Attorney General for joining this fight." 

West Oakland is a predominately low-income community of color that has borne the brunt of pollution from Port operations and other sources for decades. In 2017, the California Legislature enacted Assembly Bill (AB) 617 in order to reduce air pollution in California’s most vulnerable communities. AB 617 requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to identify communities across the state that experience disproportionate pollution burdens, and directs local air districts to take actions to reduce air pollution exposure in these communities, including working with stakeholders to produce community emissions reduction plans. In partnership with community leaders, CARB identified West Oakland as an AB 617 community in 2018, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District adopted a community emissions reduction plan for the area in 2019. Protecting the West Oakland AB 617 community from the worst impacts of the Eagle Rock project and ensuring compliance with the community's emissions reduction plan was a primary reason for the Attorney General’s intervention in this case. Further, the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Environmental Justice sent letters in October 2019 and January 2021 to the Port highlighting its strong concerns about the Eagle Rock project. 

Under the settlement, the Port and Eagle Rock have agreed to four categories of changes. First, the Port and Eagle Rock will be required to implement stronger and clearly specified protocols that use water to control fugitive dust from the three large stockpiles where the construction materials will be stored. Among other things, the aggregate stockpiles will be watered every day and the overhead watering systems will provide 100% watering coverage of each stockpile. These requirements are a dramatic improvement to the Eagle Rock project’s vague and limited watering requirements that were approved by the Port in February 2022.

Second, the Port and Eagle Rock have agreed to construct a marine vessel electrical shore power system at the Eagle Rock project location. Many marine vessels use diesel engines while docked at ports to power certain systems; electrical shore power infrastructure enables ships to turn off their polluting diesel engines and instead plug into the local electric grid. Using shore power instead of diesel engines significantly reduces nitrogen oxide and other pollutant emissions. The settlement requires the Port to plan to make shore power fully available to all ships docking at the Eagle Rock project no later than 2029, and requires Eagle Rock to procure at least one shore power-capable ship to ensure that at least 50% of all the aggregates brought to the Eagle Rock project are delivered using shore power-capable vessels. As approved by the Port in February 2022, the Eagle Rock project contained measures to reduce emissions from ships, but those measures would have been far less effective.

Third, the Port and Eagle Rock have agreed to incorporate additional electrification measures for its on-site equipment. A major source of air pollution from the Eagle Rock project is on-site equipment and vehicle trips generated by the movement of construction aggregates. Under the settlement, when each of the Eagle Rock project's hybrid front-end loaders — vehicles used to scoop, transport, and dump construction materials — reach the end of their useful life (15,000 hours of use), Eagle Rock will replace these front-end loaders with fully electric or other zero-emission vehicles, subject to availability and other conditions. As approved by the Port in February 2022, the Eagle Rock project's electrification measures were limited to merely considering other hybrid or electric options, and did not contain any commitments for Eagle Rock to replace their front-end loader vehicles with zero-emissions vehicles.

Fourth, the settlement agreement features meaningful procedural improvements and transparency commitments. The Port has agreed to stop relying on the outdated air quality impacts analysis in the 2002 Oakland Army Base Area Redevelopment Plan Environmental Impact Report for certain future projects, and will instead conduct new and updated air quality impact studies for those projects. The Port and Eagle Rock have agreed to community education measures, including providing a webinar or live educational session for the West Oakland community describing the Eagle Rock project’s operations. The Port will also work to identify a fiduciary to distribute the proceeds of the West Oakland Community Fund, a fund established after the Oakland Army Base closed in order to provide loans and grants to pay for projects to benefit the West Oakland community. Although the fund was established in 2003, some or all of the proceeds have yet to be distributed, and this settlement will finally conclude that process.

Attorney General Bonta is fighting environmental injustices throughout the state and giving a voice to frontline communities, like West Oakland, that are often under-resourced and overburdened. In April 2021, he announced the expansion of the Bureau of Environmental Justice – the first of its kind in a state attorney general’s office. In December 2021, he announced a settlement with the City of Huntington Park to ensure the development and adoption of a meaningful, tailored environmental justice element. In March 2022, he sent a letter to the County of Fresno identifying numerous deficiencies in its draft General Plan. In September 2023, he issued comprehensive guidance to local governments on effectively addressing environmental justice issues in their land use planning, as required by Senate Bill 1000.  

A copy of the final settlement agreement can be found here.

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