Members of the NWEP applaud the community organizations and individuals who have recently taken the drastic step of seeking judicial review of the decision permitting the Proposed Coal Transfer Facility for Fraser Surrey Docks, see “New West Heads to Court over Coal Facility,” Sept 22, 2014, and “Environmental Groups Welcome New West’s Support,” Sept 25, 2014, Royal Record.
On Aug 21, 2014, members of the New Westminster Environmental Partners were disappointed to hear that the permit to convert Fraser Surrey Docks into a terminal for the export of U.S. thermal coal was approved, signed by CEO and PMV President Robin Silvester. We see this decision as lacking accountability to the communities Port Metro Vancouver is purported to serve, and we believe it exposes an inherent flaw in a review process that was so narrow in focus and so bereft of transparency that this decision became a foregone conclusion.
It is our opinion that in making their decision Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) dismissed the legitimate concerns of the surrounding municipal governments and their residents, First Nations, health officials, and engaged citizens who almost unanimously oppose this project. From our perspective, their decision disregards the standards and bylaws established in the communities that host their operations. It also ignores the body of science regarding the impact of coal dust on human health and the environment, and the global impact of burning thermal coal. Furthermore, the Port failed to address the neighbourhood impacts of more than 2500 additional diesel locomotives passing though residential neighbourhoods every year, a critical omission, in our view.
Members see this decision coming at a time when the world community is coming to terms with the devastating evidence of the current impacts of climate change related to the burning of fossil fuels. The global response against anthropogenic climate change has already begun, and our regional neighbours are already taking action. From drought-ravaged California to Puget Sound, local legislators are saying “no” to terminal proposals like this one. We believe the move to make BC the “port of last refuge”, as a means to benefit the province’s economy, is a move backwards that threatens our international reputation and our global responsibility.
In response to PMV’s decision to support the expansion of coal exports, our members’ commitment to protect our communities and to respond to the needs of our environment strengthens. Community groups, municipalities, health and environmental professionals, First Nations, and concerned citizens from all walks of life are now united by a common cause. We will continue to work together to call for accountability from members of our Port Authority, our Government, and from corporations who hope to gain the social license to operate in our communities and to add citizens’ voices to the decision-making process for the benefit of our broader community.
NWEP Collective Statement: All members who responded, through email, agreed with this statement. (Oct 3, 2014)by