Media release

Vancouver, White Rock to consider significant anti-coal export motions at upcoming council meetings.

-- White Rock council to consider formally opposing Fraser Surrey Docks coal terminal; Vancouver calls for full Health Impact Assessment of coal export proposals.

For Immediate Release

March 7 2013

Vancouver -- Yesterday the City of Vancouver released a motion to be considered at it's next council meeting (attached below). The motion

      1. supports the recognition of Health Authorities as government level stakeholders in Port Authority planning and decision making;
      2. calls for the Port Authority to implement Health Impact Assessments for all new coal export proposals;
      3. supports Metro Vancouver in monitoring and regulating air quality impacts of Port developments; and
      4. asks staff to explore the possibility of declaring Vancouver, in essence, a "coal export free zone"

"The motion to be put forward by Mayor Robertson is important because it targets the fundamental flaw in the Port Authority's project approval and decision making process: the failure to evaluate and monitor the health impacts that developments on Port Authority lands generate in neighbouring communities," said Kevin Washbrook, director with Voters Taking Action on Climate Change. "We applaud the city's leadership on this issue. It's reassuring to see a municipal government standing up for the long term interests of regional residents, both in terms of local health concerns, and in terms of the climate impacts of exporting fossil fuels." Washbrook said.

The Vancouver motion comes shortly after White Rock council referred an Environmental Committee recommendation (attached below) to oppose the Fraser Surrey Docks coal port to staff for review and consideration at an upcoming council meeting. If this recommendation is supported by Council, White Rock will be the first Metro Vancouver community to formally oppose the new coal terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks. The BNSF railway, which would carry up to four coal trains per day to and from Fraser Surrey Docks, passes right along the White Rock waterfront.

Delta and New Westminster councils have also expressed concern over the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks coal terminal. So far, Surrey council and Mayor Dianne Watts have not publicly taken a stand on this issue, even though the new coal terminal will be located directly adjacent to their municipality, as is the BNSF rail line -- within 500 metres of some residences and less than a kilometre from numerous schools.

North Vancouver City has not publicly expressed concern about the doubling of coal exports from Neptune Bulk Terminals on the north shore of Burrard Inlet either.

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Link to the Multnomah Oregon Health Authority Report referred to in the City of Vancouver motion

Link to background on Health Impact Assessments, as used by the Port of Los Angeles

Link to the letter sent by the BC Lung Association, Public Health Association of BC, and other health leaders, to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority:

City of Vancouver Motion

MOTION ON NOTICE

9. Coal Export Expansion

MOVER: Mayor Gregor Robertson

SECONDER:

WHEREAS

1. Port Metro Vancouver has expansions planned for coal loading capacity at the Fraser Surrey docks and Neptune Terminal; which would make the Port the biggest exporter of coal in North America,

2. The transport of coal by train to PMV exposes residential communities to diesel exhaust and coal dust;

3. A February 2013 study "Human health effects of rail transport of coal through Multnomah County, Oregon" by the Multnomah County Health Department stated that "there are significant gaps in the scientific literature regarding how much coal dust is shed by trains carrying coal, how far coal dust travels from rail lines, and the health effects of inhaling this environmental coal dust";

4. PMV has no responsibility for impacts from Port activities outside of the Port;

5. Metro Vancouver has the regulatory authority for air quality within the Greater Vancouver area;

6. Metro Vancouver's Integrated Air Quality and Greenhouse Gas Management Plan calls for continuous improvement in local air quality;

7. The BC Lung Association, the BC Public Health Association, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and several other public health experts wrote to PMV in December 2012 urging PMV to delay any decision on coal export expansion pending broader public engagement and review of potential health impacts;

8. The Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health Authorities both wrote to PMV in December 2012 requesting to be involved as a key stakeholder equivalent to government agencies, due to the potential for upstream and downstream impacts of Port activities to impact other jurisdictions;

9. VCH and FH Authorities both requested that Health Impact Assessments take place to evaluate current and future Port expansions, as is the case at the Port of Los Angeles;

10. Coal is the single biggest source of climate changing CO2 pollution;

11. The Province of BC, through the Greenhouse Gas Reductions Target Act, is required by law to reduce GHG emissions by at least 33 per cent below 2007 levels by 2020;

12. The City of Vancouver, through its Greenest City Action Plan, has set the target of reducing its GHG emissions by 33% below 2007 levels by 2020.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED

A. THAT City staff report back on a bylaw to prevent the expansion of, or creation of new, coal export infrastructure within the City of Vancouver;

B. THAT the City of Vancouver write to the Prime Minister, the Premier, and Port Metro Vancouver stating that:

(i) The City has concerns about the GHG and health impacts of increased coal exports, particularly the unknown impacts of coal dust on human health;

(ii) The City supports the call by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health Authorities to be involved in PMV planning and project review processes as key stakeholders equivalent to government agencies, and that Health Impact Assessments be undertaken for all new coal export expansion proposals.

C. THAT the City of Vancouver forward a copy of this motion to Metro Vancouver to support the integrated air quality and greenhouse gas management plan and its goal of continuous air quality improvement. * * * * *

City of White Rock Recommendation

Environment Advisory Committee Meeting February 19, 2013

COAL TRAINS IN WHITE ROCK

Members noted that the Fraser Surrey Docks Direct Coal Transfer Facility is proposing to expand in Surrey, which will affect the City of White Rock in the form of additional coal train traffic and coal dust.

It was MOVED and SECONDED

THAT the Environment Committee recommend that the City of White Rock write to the City of Surrey outlining health and environmental concerns with respect to the potential increase in United States coal train traffic through White Rock, and requesting that the City of Surrey not proceed with the Fraser Surrey Docks Direct Coal Transfer Facility expansion;

AND THAT a copy of this letter to be sent to the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Environment Canada and Transport Canada.

CARRIED

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RESOLUTIONS FROM COUNCIL February 25, 2013

THAT Council refers to staff the following Environmental Advisory Committee recommendation:

That the City of White Rock write to the City of Surrey outlining health and environmental concerns with respect to the potential increase of United States coal train traffic through White Rock, and request the City of Surrey not proceed with the Fraser Surrey Docks Direct Coal Transfer Facility expansion; and that a copy of this letter to be sent to the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Environment Canada and Transport Canada.