Paula Williams and Kevin Washbrook, Vancouver Sun, December 6, 2013
We appreciate the chance to respond to the union members’ op-ed on coal exports from Nov. 27, (Critics of coal exports are misinformed) as it provides an opportunity to clear up misunderstandings circulated by the coal lobby. As the members pointed out, they are responsible for mining and transporting B.C.’s metallurgical coal to markets overseas. The key word here is metallurgical. We are opposed to Fraser Surrey Docks’ proposal to export U.S. thermal coal.
Mark Gordienko, Steve Hunt, Brian Cochrane and Tom Sigurdson, Vancouver Sun, November 27, 2013
Our unions’ members are responsible for mining and transporting metallurgical coal from British Columbia to markets overseas. So we welcome the positive Environmental Impact Assessment released Nov. 18 by Port Metro Vancouver on the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks expansion. The study, by experts such as Dr. Leonard Ritter, Professor Emeritus of Toxicology at the University of Guelph’s School of Environmental Sciences, shows that many complaints by environmental groups and others are misinformed or exaggerated.
The city councils of Surrey and White Rock say they are keenly interested in a relocation inland of the railway line that runs along their ocean shorelines. That message was welcomed by most of the 400-plus people attending a public forum on the topic that the two councils hosted at the Pacific Inn in south Surrey on Nov 26. The forum featured Surrey mayor Dianne Watts and White Rock mayor Wayne Baldwin. Each was given much applause when they declared that it’s time to move the line inland. The case for relocation of the BNSF line has long been compelling.
On November 23, Alliance 4 Democracy Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Conservation Association and Sunshine Coast Senior Citizens sponsored the Coal Hard Facts Forum in Sechelt. The speakers were as follows: Jef Keighley - Introduction - Alliance 4 Democracy; Eoghan Moriarty - 10 minute presentation on background of coal export proposal from Fraser-Surrey Docks, organization of Port Metro Vancouver and Real Port Hearings.org; Dr. Frank James - 20 min.
The proposed construction of a new coal terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks is drawing the ire of environmental group Greenpeace. That’s not surprising. What is unexpected is the angle from which Greenpeace is taking aim at the Port Metro Vancouver facility. It is not using the increase on global carbon emissions and health consequences as its main argument that the terminal should not go ahead. Rather, it is on the grounds for which the terminal was proposed in the first place: economics.
In the last VESG online newsletter, we reported on hundreds protesting against the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) closed door decision-making on the proposed coal port that would make Vancouver the largest exporter in North America of the dirtiest of fossil fuels. Organizers of the protests argue that the VFPA has failed to protect the public interest as it refuses to address the full impacts or conduct adequate public hearings on proposed coal export expansion.
In the northeastern tip of Colombia, fierce resistance to Cerrejón, one of the world’d largest open-pit coal mines, has seen indigenous communities block highways and railway lines in recent weeks. These protests take place in the context of a wider movement of indigenous people trying to safeguard their territories. “In 30 years of pillaging natural resources, [the company] has achieved absolutely nothing positive for us,” says Yasmin Romero Epiayu, an indigenous Wayúu woman who resides near the Cerrejón mine in La Guajira, Colombia.
Share prices of major coal mining companies in the United States have collapsed in the last two years. Investors have lost billions. The lack of any solution to the high levels of climate pollution from coal burning is dimming the industry prospects for a growing number of investors. Amazingly this gutting of market capitalization over the last two years has happened while US coal production fell just 6%. It's not today's relatively small decline that has spooked investors. Instead it is a rapid change in what the future looks like for American coal.
I have written frequently to explain how dramatic expansion of unconventional oil like bitumen in Canada is found by all leading international analysts to be inconsistent with the 2 C limit our political leaders promise to strive for. The same is true for any expansion of coal-fired power plants. For this reason, I agreed to sign my name to this statement by leading researchers on the urgent need for no new coal plants, anywhere in the world, unless they capture and store the carbon pollution. We can no longer allow the construction of new, unabated coal plants.
...After a billion litres of coal slurry leaked from the old Obed Mountain mine’s “containment” pond into the Athabasca River without anyone noticing, McQueen assured Albertans, “We have very strict environmental standards in this province, and they’re all being followed.” So “strict” adherence to Alberta’s rigorous environmental standards has resulted in what may be the biggest spill of pollutants in Canadian history. Again we see a complete disconnect between the minister’s words and reality.