Ecojustice lawyers are appealing a Federal Court decision that would allow a new coal transfer facility to be built on the Fraser River.
Ecojustice’s clients — Communities and Coal and local residents Paula Williams and Christine Dujmovich — have major concerns about the project’s human health and climate impacts.
If built, the Fraser Surrey Docks project would see up to four million tonnes of thermal coal carried by open-car rail from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin through Vancouver’s Lower Mainland each year, ultimately bound for export to foreign markets. When burned in overseas facilities, the coal shipped through the project will contribute nearly seven million tonnes of CO2 emissions to the grave threat of manmade climate change.
Exposure to coal dust has also been linked to respiratory illnesses and diesel particulate matter emitted by trains carrying coal is associated with pulmonary inflammation, increased asthma attacks, heart attacks and cancer risk.
Ecojustice’s case argues that the conduct of the Port and its officers gave rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias when it greenlighted the coal project — in part because the Port’s employee bonus scheme offered significant financial incentives for executives to move the project forward despite concerns from local residents..
Ecojustice and its clients first brought a case against the Fraser Surrey Docks coal project in 2014. In February 2018, they announced plans to appeal an earlier Federal Court decision to dismiss the case.
Why is Ecojustice involved?
Our clients don’t want to see their communities become conduits for dirty coal and deserve fair and impartial regulatory processes on decisions that impact their communities. With doors firmly shut on coal export facilities in Washington State and Oregon, the need to find an export route along the west coast is prompting American companies to look north for ways to get their product to foreign markets. It is critical we stop this dirty coal project in its tracks to protect the climate and the health of local residents.
Allowing this project to go ahead will be yet another stain on Canada’s 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 the Port would then undertake a new, impartial review and give full consideration to the health and environmental concerns of the surrounding communities. A win would also send a strong message that bias, or the appearance of bias, will not be tolerated in public authority decision-making.