Oakland airport expansion draft EIR doesn't include plane emissions, environmentalists claim

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Monday, August 28, 2023
OAK expansion draft EIR doesn't include plane emissions: coalition
Environmentalists claim the draft EIR for Oakland Airport's expansion does not account for emissions from arriving and departing airplanes.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The plan to expand the Oakland International Airport could be a big boost to the economy and create more jobs. But some are concerned that it will be more noise and more pollution.

The group Stop OAK Expansion - has an even bigger concern -- one they claim is not addressed in the draft environmental impact report.

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao says the expanding of the Oakland airport would be a big boost to the city's post pandemic recovery.

But local environmental groups say there is one problem.

RELATED: Oakland International Airport considering major expansion project, seeks community input on EIR

A new Oakland International Airport proposal is looking to modernize two terminals and build another terminal adding more than a dozen new gates.

They claim that the draft environmental impact report doesn't address the emissions that come from the actual airplanes that take off and land here at the airport.

"There are big concerns for those opposed to the proposed expansion of the Oakland International Airport," said Ariella Granett of Stop OAK Expansion

The biggest of these concerns has to do with the airplanes.

"It is important to be aware that 99% of a modern airport's emissions are actually from their flights," Granett said.

RELATED: SFO tests system to reduce flight noise in nearby neighborhoods

Stop OAK Expansion is a coalition made up of 62 local grassroots organizations. They argue that the new draft environmental impact report released by the Port of Oakland - which owns and operates the Oakland airport - doesn't take into account the greenhouse gas emissions from the actual airplanes.

"They claim that the impact of pollution and climate global warming emissions are significant, but unavoidable. And that's because they don't actually regulate the emissions from the flights," Granett said.

The Oakland airport expects its number of passengers to more than double over the next 15 years. The proposal is to add 16 new gates and expand the international arrival facilities.

Colleen Liang with the Port of Oakland spoke to ABC7 News in July.

MORE: City of Oakland releases Howard Terminal environmental impact report on A's waterfront ballpark

This is definitely a milestone for Oakland airport. As i mentioned earlier, we have not modernized the airport since it was built," Liang said in July.

In an email to ABC7 News, the Port of Oakland responded to claims about the draft EIR by saying:

"OAK continues to explore the new zero emission aviation technologies that will help us achieve our zero emissions goals."

The Port of Oakland says it wants to reach zero emissions by 2040 for the airport.

MORE: ABC News exclusive: FAA giving airports more than $100M to help prevent runway incursions

It says it is working with airlines to increase the use of what's called "Sustainable Aviation Fuel," which is not a fossil fuel. OAK says it already has commitments from Southwest Airlines.

OAK also joined Airport Carbon Accreditation, an international program that requires airport members to a complete review of greenhouse gas inventories.

"The Port of Oakland, they are starting a process to inventory their emissions. And we applaud them in this effort," Granett said.

But Granett says local, state and federal agencies need to work more closely with the aviation industry to come up with a plan to reduce airline emissions and for investments in alternative modes of transportation.

"Traveling is very important. But faced with a climate emergency, there really is no economy on a dead planet. And there is no tourism and pleasure on a dead planet," Granett said.

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