Open Letter Opposing Port Metro Vancouver Coal Export Expansion

Media release November 27 2012: here.

Port Metro Vancouver is poised to make our region the biggest exporter of coal in North America. That's a bad idea.

In just over 24 hours VTACC and the Wilderness Committee collected 188 signatories to the open letter below, including the world's leading climate scientists and advocates, international organizations, authors, academics, representatives of faith communities and concerned citizens.

How? We simply told people what was planned and asked them what they thought - something our unelected and unaccountable Port Authority appears not to have done.

In fact, the Port Authority says "There's no expectation that there's going to be any further public engagement activities at this point in time." A few staff at the Port will decide on this issue, and our future, behind closed doors. This is wrong.

If enough of us make our concerns known the Port Authority must listen. The open letter was just the first step.

Please click here to send your own message to the Port's board of directors today.

In the media.

Open Letter


Board, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

Planning and Development Department, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

Robin Sylvester, CEO Vancouver Fraser Port Authority


Mayor and Council, City of Surrey

Mayor and Council, City of North Vancouver

Chief and Council, Tsleil-Waututh First Nation

Chief and Council, Squamish First Nation

Chief and Council, Kwantlen First Nation

Chief and Council, Musqueam First Nation

Chief and Council, Kwikwetlem First Nation

Chief and Council, Semiahmoo First Nation

Chief and Council, Katzie First Nation

Chief and Council, Qayqayt First Nation

Board, Metro Vancouver Regional District

Carol Mason, CAO Metro Vancouver Regional District

November 27 2012

We are writing today to express our concerns about two tenant-led project proposals currently under review by the Port Authority: the Fraser Surrey Docks Direct Coal Transfer Facility, and the Neptune Terminals Upgrades | Coal Handling Expansion.

If approved, these two projects will increase coal exports from the Port Authority by up to 14 million metric tonnes (Mt) per year. This will bring the Port Authority's coal export capacity up to a staggering 55 to 59 Mt per year, making it the largest coal exporter in North America. Converted into global warming emissions, this volume of exported coal will release, when burned, more than 100 Mt of CO2 emissions per year, a volume of global warming pollution much larger than all the emissions within BC each year, and more than that associated with oil exports from the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.

As we are sure you know, the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal has been submitted to intense scrutiny through a broad public review process, and has received extensive media coverage. In contrast, the proposals now before the Port Authority have received little attention until quite recently, even though, when considered cumulatively, they have similarly significant implications for our climate and future generations.

This is a problem that we call on you to correct.

The mandate of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority states that it is to "operate with broad public support in the best interests of Canadians." We write to you today to insist that these proposals are not in the best interests of Canadians, nor anyone else. They will by their very nature hasten the onset of dangerous climate change, which poses a clear threat to human health and well-being. We also ask that you acknowledge that you cannot legitimately claim that these projects have broad public support, because you have not adequately informed the general public about their existence nor sufficiently invited the public to provide comment on their impacts.

To rectify this failure to meet your mandate, we ask that the Port Authority take the following steps:

1. Delay any decision making on either project application;

2. Inform the general public of Metro Vancouver of the scope of these projects, and develop a straightforward and transparent process for inviting and publicly tabulating their input;

3. Incorporate explicit consideration of the global climate change impacts of project proposals into the decision making process for these and all future projects.

The International Energy Agency, the World Meteorological Association and the United Nations have all recently released warnings that we are not doing enough to reduce global warming emissions, and that the opportunity to avoid catastrophic runaway climate change is rapidly closing. Given all that is at stake, the Port Authority has an ethical obligation to pause and seriously reconsider these two coal export proposals and to re-evaluate its decision making processes.

We look forward to your public response to these requests.


New signatories added since the letter was released noted in italics at both top and bottom.

David Suzuki

Bill McKibben, founder

Naomi Klein, journalist, columnist and author of The Shock Doctrine

James Hansen, climate scientist

Islands Trust Council

Sierra Club BC

David Boyd, environmental lawyer; Professor, Resource and Environmental Management,Simon Fraser University; Co-Chair, Vancouver's Greenest City Action Team

Tzeporah Berman, activist and environmental leader

Mark Jaccard, Professor, Sustainable Energy, Simon Fraser University; member, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Andrew Weaver, Professor, University of Victoria; member, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Wilderness Committee

Greenpeace Canada

David Suzuki Foundation

James MacKinnon, author, The 100-Mile Diet

Voters Taking Action on Climate Change

Georgia Strait Alliance



Council of Canadians

Social and Environmental Justice Committee of Vancouver Quakers

Dogwood Initiative

Lynne Quarmby, Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University

Bruce Mohun, Science Journalist and TV Director

Dr. Arne Mooers, Biosciences, Simon Fraser University

Eric Doherty, Vancouver

BC Sustainable Energy Association

Simon Donner, Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia

Jackie Larkin, Victoria

Friends of the Earth (FOE) Canada

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives -- BC Office

Christopher O'Brien, Toronto

Tanker Free BC

Arzeena Hamir, Amara Farm, Courtenay

William Rees, PhD, FRSC

ForestEthics Advocacy

Esther M. Verheyen, Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University

Manitoba Wildlands

Fred Bass, MD, M Sci, D Sci, Vancouver

Richard Marcuse Consulting

Kathryn Harrison, University of British Columbia, Professor

Green 13, Toronto

Rob Baxter, Principal, Vancouver Renewable Energy; Director, Society Promoting Environmental Conservation

Eric Swanson, Campaigns Director, Dogwood Initiative

Alejandro Frid, PhD, Conservation Ecologist

Zero Carbon Ontario

Bruce Brandhorst, Professor, Simon Fraser University

Rosemary Cornell, PhD. Professor, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University

Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

Mitchell Stookey, Vancouver

Tom L Green, PhD, Ecological Economist

Kids For Climate Action

Cliff Stainsby, Cobble Hill

Christopher Barrington-Leigh, Assistant Professor, McGill University

Canada's Citizens Climate Lobby

Jamie Scott, MD, PhD, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Dept. of Molecular Biology & Biochemistry and Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Anna Bunce, Nanaimo

Emma Campbell, Vancouver

Toronto Climate Campaign

Vegans & Vegetarians of Alberta

Stephen Rees

Wendy Major, member, PIPE UP Network

Rick Zaleski, member, PIPE UP Network

Kevin Harper, member, PIPE UP Network

Suzanne Davidson, member, PIPE UP Network

Julie Trimmingham, Bellingham

Steve McMinn, Bellingham


Stephen and Michael Hale, members, PIPE UP Network

Christine Leclerc, Vancouver

Cowichan Carbon Busters

Brent Granby, West End, Vancouver

Dr. David Tindall, Associate Professor, Department of Forest Resources Management, Department of Sociology, Centre for Applied Conservation Research, University of British Columbia.

Matt Horne, Vancouver

JustEarth, Toronto

Leonardo Frid, Bowen Island BC

Brad Hornick, PhD Student, Simon Fraser University

Quincy Young, Clinical Psychologist, St Paul's Hospital

Maureen Palmer, Documentary Filmmaker

W. Richard Peltier DSc, FRSC, University Professor and Professor of Physics, Director of the Centre for Global Change Science, Department of Physics, University of Toronto

Alaska Community Action on Toxics

Comox Valley Waterwatch Coalition, Comox Valley BC

Emily Chan, Vancouver

John Vaillant, author: The Golden Spruce, The Tiger

Andrew Frank, Instructor, Environmental Protection Technology and the School of Business, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Canon Kenneth Gray, Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Colwood BC

Karl Perrin, Vancouver Unitarians

George Hoberg, Professor, Department of Forest Resources Management, University of British Columbia

Rev. Frances Deverell, President, Canadian Unitarians For Social Justice

David Green, Professor, Department of Economics, University of British Columbia

Council of Canadians - Mid Island Chapter

Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition

Youth For Climate Justice Now (Y4CJN)

Danny Harvey, Department of Geography, University of Toronto

Lasqueti Island Nature Conservancy

Social Coast

Grow Creative

Caitlyn Vernon, author, Nowhere Else on Earth: Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest

James Boothroyd, Vancouver

Paul Teehan, PhD Candidate, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia

Larry Commodore, Soowahlie

PowerPastCoal Coalition

An alliance of health, environmental, clean-energy, faith and community groups working to stop coal exports off the West Coast of North America., International

Beyond Toxics, OR

Big Blackfoot Riverkeeper, MT

Biscayne Bay Waterkeeper, FL

Blue Skies, MT

Cascadia Wildlands, OR

Chinook Trails Association, OR

Chuckanut Conservancy, WA

Chuckanut Transition, WA

Citizens for a Clean Harbor, WA

Citizens for a Healthy Bay, WA

Climate Solutions, WA, OR, ID, MT

Climb Against Coal, WA

Coalition for Livable Future, OR

Columbia Gorge Kiteboarding Association, OR

Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association

Columbia Riverkeeper, OR, WA

Conservation Northwest, WA

Cook Inletkeeper, AK

CoolMom, WA

Coos Bay Waterkeeper, OR

CREDO Action, National

Dakota Resource Council, ND

Dogwood Initiative, Canada

Douglas County Global Warming Coalition, OR

Earth Ministry, WA

Earthjustice, National

Environment America, National

Environment Oregon, OR

Environment Washington, WA

Faith Action Network, WA

French Broad Riverkeeper, NC

Friend of the Columbia Gorge, WA, OR

Friends of Grays Harbor, WA

Friends of Skagit County, WA

Friends of the Earth, Federal

Friends of the San Juans, WA


Global Community Monitor, International

Grays Harbor Audubon Society, WA

Green Party of Skagit County, WA

Greenpeace, National

Guemes Island Property Owners Association, WA

Hood River Valley Residents Committee, OR

Interfaith Power & Light, CA

Irthlngz Arts Based Environmental Education, WA

Kootenai Environmental Alliance, ID

Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper, ID

Landowners and Citizens for a Safe Community, WA

League of Conservation Voters, National

League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom, WA

Milwuakie Coal Task Force, OR

Montana Environmental Information Center, MT

Montana Elders for a Livable Tomorrow, MT

National Wildlife Federation, National

Native Fish Society, OR

North Cascades Audubon Society, WA

North Sound Baykeeper, WA

Northern Plains Resource Council, MT

NW Energy Coalition, WA, OR, MT, ID

Ogeechee Riverkeeper, GA

OR Physicians for Social Responsibility, OR

Orca Network, WA

Orcas NO COALition, WA

Oregon Environmental Council, OR

Oregon Interfaith Power and Light, and Project of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, OR

Oregon League of Conservation Voters, OR

Oregon Rural Action, OR

People for Puget Sound, WA

Power Past Coal Skagit, WA

Progressive Democrats of America, National

Protect Our Winters, CA

Protect Whatcom, WA

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, WA

Rachel's Friends Breast Cancer Coalition, OR

Rainforest Action Network, CA

RE Sources for Sustainable Communities, WA

Restoring Eden, WA

SafeGuard the South Fork, WA

San Francisco Baykeeper, CA

Satilla Riverkeeper, GA

Sierra Club, National

Spokane River Keeper, WA

Surfrider Foundation, CA

Sustainable Ballard, WA

The Lands Council, WA

The Renewable Energy Accountability Project, CA

Transition Fidalgo & Friends, WA

Transition Port Gardner, WA

Upstream Public Health, OR

Washington Audubon, WA

Washington Conservation Voters, WA

Washington Environmental Council, WA

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, WA

Washington Toxics Coalition, WA

Washington Wildlife Federation, WA

Western Organization of Resource Councils, CO, ID, MT, ND, OR, SD, WY

Western Washington Fellowship of Reconciliation

Whatcom Action Coalition, WA

Whatcom Conservation Voters, WA

Wilderness Committee, Canada

WWU Action Coalition, WA

Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council, MT