A’s sue California DTSC over Schnitzer Steel

Quick version:

Need more? Okay.

The A’s filed a lawsuit against the State of California, claiming that the State didn’t enforce 2018 environmental regulations meant to keep metal recycling facilities like Schnitzer Steel from accidentally starting fires. A website, SchnitzerWatch.org, was set up by the A’s, along with a change.org petition which has around 1,200 signees as of 8/5 @ 10 PM. The petition also has a number of donations, which is good for the A’s legal fees supporting this effort. Considering that they already list two law firms and may have more on retainer, they’ll be making withdrawals quite frequently.

Additionally on my tweet, is a reference the March lawsuit brought by coalition of Port companiesalso against the State, over Howard Terminal. That lawsuit was about the CEQA streamlining the A’s were seeking, and whether the A’s got certification by January 1, 2020 (they didn’t).

If you’re keeping score, both the A’s and Port interests are not suing each other, but rather the State of California (DTSC and SLC, respectively) over those agencies’ treatment of the offending parties (Schnitzer and A’s, respectively). So in both cases, the complainants are snitching. This doesn’t mean these lawsuits automatically cancel each other out. There may be a way to come to an agreement, but considering how both sides have had six years and nothing’s happened yet, I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’s much more likely that both will go to court in separate cases, whenever it’s safe to add those cases to the dockets and hear them. It’s also worth nothing that the A’s only role in the area is as a lessee of office space at Jack London Square. They don’t own any property yet, unlike Schnitzer.

On Sunday night, I wrote about the timeline slippage for Howard Terminal the A’s published over the weekend. Fast forward to Wednesday, the A’s file the lawsuit, and President Dave Kaval makes the media rounds.

Deeper in Kaval’s tweet thread is an interesting nugget:

Caught up in all the talk about helping West Oakland, Kaval says, “We’ll fight this fight regardless of what happens with the ballpark.”

And right there, the A’s created an escape hatch for themselves. If this fight becomes too difficult, they could abandon Howard Terminal, retreat back to the Coliseum (which they may entirely own in a few months), and pledge to clean up Schnitzer for the sake of West Oakland. Maybe those change.org donations will go towards an environmental fund, who knows?

On the other hand, let’s posit that the A’s take this all the way in court. What are the A’s asking for?

When Schnitzer accepts old cars or appliances to scrap, those hunks of metal are often contaminated. Those contaminants (oil, chemicals, rubber) aren’t easily cleaned away, and some may turn into lighter fluid for scrap metal fires. From skimming both the complaint summary and DTSC’s explainer of the metal shredding process, there aren’t many good alternatives. And if you look at the news, it’s a pretty widespread problem, one not yet solved with technology. A similar metal recycling facility in Chicago was closed in May after a series of fires, controversially reopening yesterday. For the benefit of West Oakland residents, it would be best to copy the operating model of another facility that functions without causing fires. A City of Chicago document outlines one method of storing the scrap indoors in a fireproof enclosure, which sounds like a good idea for Howard Terminal (Note 8/6 11:30 AM: At least one West Oakland activist agrees). Is anyone proposing that? Would that be enough? I’m as much an environmental expert as I am a lawyer, so I can’t speak with any more clarity on the efficacy of that method.

Schnitzer Steel can’t keep skating beyond well-expired deadlines. Neither can the A’s with theirs. In both cases, companies are going to have to make significant investments to prove their worthiness. If they don’t, they’re not doing West Oakland or the entire City of Oakland any good. All this posturing we’re hearing from both sides is just a way to delay making those investments.

Finally, there’s an unusual footnote to this whole affair. Today’s lawsuit by the A’s was brought by the law firm Keker Van Nest & Peters. March’s lawsuit filed by PMSA/Schnitzer was brought by Pillsbury. You may remember that both firms helped the Giants fight off the City of San Jose’s territorial rights challenge. Now they’re effectively on opposite sides: Pillsbury reps the Port interests while Keker is working for the A’s. Even in these pandemic times, life is good when you’re on a retainer.

Spiderman pointing meme

Added at sierraspartan’s suggestion

P.S. – Almost forgot, the Schnitzer Watch site has no A’s branding on it, even though the A’s filed the lawsuit. Why? Who knows?

9 thoughts on “A’s sue California DTSC over Schnitzer Steel

  1. So now Pillsbury and KVN are both working a case against the state over the same site but are effectively against each other now?

    Isn’t this where we put in the GIF of two spider-men pointing at each other?

  2. The latest developments are interesting, we still don’t know if HT can actually work out or not. However, there really should not be much doubt that The A’s a serious about the site.

    They have put more time energy and resources behind this effort than any previous supposed effort in Oakland, or any actual effort anywhere else in the Bay Area.

    Perhaps I am being too hopeful, but there is no way the A’s make this sort of effort simply to support the mayor, or to orchestrate a bait & switch effort to get the coliseum property at an even greater discount.

    Doesn’t mean it will it will work, but encouraging.

    • I heard this same story before, in 2007, in Fremont. The rest is history.

      • You heard the same story before?

        We have all head the same same story before, right up to the point where it’s not the same story before.

        If they ever build something (which is what I believe your blog is about), then it will stop being a story we have all heard before.

      • At this point, I truly believe that the only way for the A’s to finally get a suitable new ballpark deal accomplished is for MLB to agree to open up the entire Bay Area market for consideration as potential new ballpark sites for the team. It is only then that the A’s will get the necessary leverage to be able to work out a ballpark deal at a site of their true preference, whether it’s at HT, other near downtown Oakland sites, the Coliseum, or other parts of the Bar Area market.

  3. Pingback: Albert Pujols won't blame the pandemic for not reaching 700 homers with the Angels - worldauthenticnews.com

  4. Pingback: Albert Pujols is OK with not reaching 700 homers with Angels – Golfing In The UK

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