VANCOUVER — Community groups are headed to court today to keep a legal challenge against the Fraser Surrey Docks coal port alive.
The case, filed in September 2014, is aimed at quashing the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s decision to approve a new coal transfer facility on the Fraser River. Both the Port Authority and the company have filed motions to dismiss the case, the latest in a series of procedural motions that has delayed this case from being heard by the court.
“The Port Authority and the company are fighting very hard to make this court case go away, and we can’t let that happen,” said Karen Campbell, Ecojustice lawyer. “There are too many unanswered questions and unconsidered impacts to let this dirty coal project go ahead.”
Ecojustice lawyers are working on behalf of two local residents and two B.C.-based organizations, Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC) and Communities and Coal. They allege the Port Authority’s decision was biased, improperly delegated and did not take into consideration climate impacts when it approved the project.
“Our case raises serious concerns about the project’s impact on our community and our climate. We cannot let that go unchallenged,” said Paula Williams of Communities and Coal. “We are here today to preserve our day in court.”
The Fraser Surrey Docks project would see up to four megatonnes (MT) of coal per year shipped by open-car rail from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin through Vancouver’s Lower Mainland. The coal would then be loaded onto ships for export to Asian markets.
“We’re at a critical point in the global fight against coal. Allowing this project to proceed could lock us into many more years of coal exports, and is the exact opposite of where we need to be going if we are to take action to address climate change,” said Kevin Washbrook of Voters Taking Action on Climate Change. “This coal needs to stay in the ground, and this project never should have been approved by the Port.”