Ecojustice lawyers have launched a Federal Court case on behalf of local residents in an effort to quash a Port Authority-issued permit allowing the construction of a new coal transfer facility on the Fraser River.  Our clients — two local residents and a pair of community-based groups — have major concerns about the project’s human health and climate impacts.

The Fraser Surrey Docks project would see up to four million tonnes of thermal coal, one of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels, shipped by open-car rail from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin through Vancouver’s Lower Mainland each year. The coal would then be barged to Texada Island, then loaded onto ships for export to Asian markets. This project could pump nearly eight megatonnes of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere each year, which is the equivalent of adding some 1.6 million passenger vehicles to the road.

Our case argues that the conduct of the Port and its officers suggests bias — that the approval was a done deal long before the permit review was even completed. We’re also challenging the Port Authority for failing to consider the climate impacts of burning the coal in Asia.

Why is Ecojustice involved?
Our clients don’t want to see their communities become conduits for dirty coal. As increasing opposition to coal transport facilities in Washington State and Oregon prompts companies to look north for alternate routes to Asian markets, it is critical we stop this dirty coal project in its tracks.

This case also marks one of the first opportunities Ecojustice has taken to directly challenge a project on its climate impacts. Allowing this project to go ahead will be yet another black mark on Canada’s poor environmental record and further cement our reputation as a laggard on climate change.

What would a win mean?
A win in this case would quash the permit, forcing the Port to review the Fraser Surrey Docks project again before it can proceed. Our hope is that a new review would take climate impacts into consideration. It would also send a strong message that bias, or the appearance of bias, will not be tolerated in public authority decision-making.