Exporting U.S. coal and carbon emissions

Al Engler

The governing Liberals in BC and Conservatives in Canada insist that jobs, public revenues and economic growth all depend on expanding fossil fuel exports. Christie Clark’s Liberals won the 2013 BC election promising a future of jobs and rising public revenues based on the export of liquified natural gas.  Now two years later faced with widespread protests and declining oil and gas prices, no LNG project has proceeded.

Additional oil pipelines to the Pacific are promoted but only Kinder Morgan is actually proceeding. Here preliminary efforts to double the existing line to Burnaby to carry diluted bitumen from the tar sands have been delayed by blockades and court action. One other project to export to Asia appears to be proceeding; it involves the dirtiest of all fossil fuels: thermal coal.  Port Metro Vancouver, a Federal Agency, has given a permit to ship thermal coal from Fraser-Surrey docks. The coal to be exported is mined in Wyoming and Montana. It is to be transported by rail to the docks, by barge to Texada Island and then by ships to Asia.

This proposal is also facing strong opposition. Fraser-Surrey docks are close to the center of heavily populated Metro Vancouver, directly across the Fraser from New Westminster. The permit is being appealed to the Federal Court by an environmental group, Ecojustice. The City of New Westminster is supporting the appeal as an intervener. City councils in Surrey, Burnaby, and Vancouver have voted to oppose the coal export permit. Communities along the rail route have also expressed their opposition. So has the Sechelt First Nation, whose traditional territory includes Texada Island.