If Oregon can do it, why can’t B.C.?

Our allies in my native state of Oregon are celebrating a huge victory today as the Department of State Lands rejected an application from Ambre Energy to build an 8 million tonne coal export facility at the Port of Morrow on the Columbia River.

This is a big deal. Sure, Ambre still has a few more permits pending, but without the OK from State Lands it is effectively dead – a defeat made possible by the tens of thousands of Oregonians and Native Tribes who have banded together to defend their communities and their collective future.

In the face of mounting pressure from residents, local governments, community groups and health advocates over the past year, Oregon’s governor John Kitzhaber responded by taking a principled stand opposing coal exports. State agencies followed his lead.

In stark contrast, our Premier and the B.C. Liberal government have so far deflected public appeals for comprehensive health and environmental assessments of the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks-Texada Island coal transshipment project even as Port Metro Vancouver – the federal authority tasked with permitting the docks facility – has repeatedly failed to adequately address local concerns.

Of seven proposals for new coal export terminals on the west coast of North America, three have been withdrawn and now the Morrow project has been effectively defeated. That means only three proposals for new terminal remain on the table, and Fraser Surrey Docks-Texada is one of them. Port Metro Vancouver is still reviewing the project, and Fraser Surrey Docks must still apply for an air emissions permit at Metro Vancouver.

There’s still plenty of time for our provincial leaders to decide whether they want to be on the right or the wrong side of history on thermal coal exports.

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