Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category
Canadians did not vote for this. The expectation they had was that electing a Liberal government would produce a rapid, radical change of direction from the Conservatives. Instead of that we have seen what is apparently always the way with Liberals: campaign on the left, govern on the right. It was certainly my bitter experience in the first Canadian election I was able to vote in after I became a citizen in 1992. I read “The Red Book” which set out a Keynesian agenda for the country, so I voted Liberal. Then Paul Martin became Finance Minister and we went on with all the conservative policies I had voted against. Of course I did not get caught twice: I voted Green last time. Not nearly enough people did that, so we are forced to repeat history.
The opponents to the Massey Tunnel replacement have long held the view that real reason for this megaproject is further port expansion. Once the tunnel has been replaced by a bridge, the tubes will be removed from the river bed, and dredging will commence. Of course, the Environmental Assessment for the project ignores this completely. And ports are a federal responsibility. We now have confirmation from federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay:
“We do not want to lose agricultural land but it’s no good producing products that you can’t move, either,” MacAulay said, answering a question from Country Life in BC following a presentation to Greater Vancouver Board of Trade members on September 12. “So it’s one way or the other – the port in Vancouver has to be efficient to move the products to market. The Asian market is a big market, only going to get larger, and we want to be there.”
So we can now add loss of land from the ALR to the Site C project, the Lelu Island LNG project and the almost certain federal approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to the “sunny ways” of our new Prime Minister. Yes, I am sure he looks very appealing to many when he takes his shirt off. But I do not think that is nearly enough to justify his policies.
Of course I am risking a lot by openly opposing this government. We have already seen how the practice of the Conservative Government
- audits of the environmental charities for political activity, ignoring the Fraser Institute far more blatant flouting of the same law;
- removal of Canadian citizenship with no right to an oral hearing, no right to have the matter referred to a judge, and no right to even know the extent of the case against them
- Creation of a “New”CSIS as a secret police force
continued by this government. Of course, if I do find myself without citizenship I will not actually be able to prove that it was environmental activism that was used to brand me a terrorist – but that is already happening.
You probably know already that proposals to expand coal exports at several ports in the United States have failed to get the necessary local approvals. Unfortunately, in Canada, we do not have local control of the ports like they do down there. Here the port is a federal concern, and under Stephen Harper they got used to doing pretty much whatever they wanted. The ports in Canada are actually controlled by the industries and companies that use them and hence they are immune – to a large extent – from concerns expressed by the people who live next door.
Except that there are some remaining powers, which under the new Liberal government may actually have some force. provided that Justin actually keeps all those promises he made before the election. Case in point is the idea that Fraser Surrey docks could be used by BNSF to load thermal coal from the US Powder River Basin for export to power stations in Asia. Given that the size of ships that can navigate the Fraser are currently limited by the depth of water over the Massey Tunnel and the headroom under the Alex Fraser bridge, the idea is to use barges to tranship the coal from the railhead in Surrey to Texada Island where a new, deep water ship terminal would be built. The desperation of the coal exporters willingness to even consider this kind of expense is borne out of two considerations: the market for thermal coal is shrinking, and the US federal government is beginning to wonder why it is giving away coal at knockdown prices from public lands. Given the endorsement of the Paris Agreement by the US and China, the days of expanding coal fired generation of electricity are clearly numbered. Together with the plummeting price of both solar and wind power, and ways to cheaply store that.
The Dogwood Initiative is fighting the proposal. They wrote to me as follows:
Yesterday, regional bureaucrats approved a wastewater permit for the Fraser Surrey Docks coal export proposal, moving this climate-killing megaproject one step closer to construction.
This is our chance to stop millions of tonnes of U.S. thermal coal from slipping out through the Lower Mainland to be burned in Asia.
Metro Vancouver must now consider whether to issue an air quality permit that would allow Fraser Surrey Docks to pollute our lungs and our communities with coal dust and diesel fumes.
The good thing is Metro’s board is made up of elected local politicians — accountable to you. They’re on the record against any expansion of coal exports on the Fraser River, and they have the power to put the brakes on Fraser Surrey Docks.
If enough people speak up, we can empower Metro Vancouver to protect our communities and our climate.
Will you take two minutes to write to the Metro Vancouver Board and ask them to stand firm in their opposition of Fraser Surrey Docks?
With prices collapsing and coal projects being cancelled around the world, this delay could be enough to permanently end the threat of an expanded coal port. In the past five years, seven thermal coal export proposals have already been stopped in the U.S.
The tide is turning against coal, and we need the elected members of the Metro Vancouver Board to show real leadership by saying ‘no’ to Fraser Surrey Docks.
We’ve made it quick and convenient, so please take a couple minutes to write to them right now.
We can stop this project, but not without you. Please take action today.
P.S. In 2015, there was so much public interest in the wastewater permit that Metro Vancouver offered a public consultation period for the first time. An unprecedented number of local residents voiced health, safety and environmental concerns about the management plan for wastewater at the coal port expansion. It set the project back by a year. Now the real fight over the air permit begins. Will you be one of the people willing to stand up and speak out?
So of course I agreed and sent the following missive to the Metro Vancouver Board
Dear Metro Vancouver Board Members,
Across the west coast of the United States, communities have stood up against the expansion of coal export facilities. Quite apart from the immorality of increasing fossil fuel exports at a time when our climate is nearing the limits of what it can cope with and remain livable, these communities raised real concerns about the impacts of coal dust on the local population. Carrying pulverised coal in open rail cars at speed spreads fine dust over a wide area. We already see this in Greater Vancouver due to current coal export movement. We also see that the supposed mitigation measures offered by the railway and terminal operating companies are worthless.
Metro Vancouver Board members ought to be concerned about climate change and the very doubtful economics of coal exports, but sadly you have no legal ability to act on those concerns. You do however have the opportunity to prevent more damage to our health and the environment. The existing coal export operations show how careless these operations are, and how weak our control systems have been. We simply cannot afford to be so reckless with human health any more. You must refuse the air quality permit given the shameful performance of these operations to date.
And to date I have had three replies which give me some cause for hope
Thank you for contacting our office, your message has been received.
Please note, staff will look into your correspondence and follow up as soon as possible.
To report a City Service related problem or time sensitive matter, please visit www.surrey.ca to connect with the appropriate department.
Linda M. Hepner
City of Surrey
Well, ok that one is just an automated acknowledgement, but the next two are better
Thank you for writing to me on this matter of the proposed coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks, as I appreciate the opportunity to clarify that my position and the Metro Vancouver Board position continues to be in opposition to coal shipments from the Fraser River Estuary. On June 12 2015, the GVRD Board passed a Notice of Motion to write to Port of Vancouver and FSD indicating this and I have included the minutes of the meeting for your convenience. (item H. 1 )
While the Sewage Control Manager did issued a liquid waste discharge permit to Fraser Surrey Docks on September 6, 2016 in relation to their proposed coal transfer facility, it continues to be Metro Vancouver’s position that before the facility can operate it must also obtain an air quality permit and Metro Vancouver has not yet received an Air Quality permit application. This position of requiring an Air Quality permit is not without opposition from the proponent, as the facility is on federal land and there is a potential constitutional issue of jurisdiction.
The Sewage Control Manager is directed by GVS&DD Sewer Use Bylaw No. 299 2007, to independently evaluate applications based on technical merit and in accordance with bylaws and the BC Environmental Management Act. When the technical criteria are met, the Sewage Control Manager is required to issue a Liquid Waste Discharge Permit. Had the Sewage Control Manager rejected the permit application, FSD could have moved forward with other wastewater control measures, including applying to the province for a permit to direct discharge to the Fraser River.
To be clear, the issued permit is very narrow in scope and only allows for storm water runoff and wastewater from activities like dust mitigation and equipment wash-down from the potential FSD facility to be discharged to the Annacis Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Acting Mayor Raymond Louie
Vice-Chair – Metro Vancouver Regional District
Thanks for your email. Surrey City Council stands opposed to the coal export terminal and has passed a resolution to that effect. Furthermore, with the price of thermal coal, it is highly unlikely that the proposed export terminal and the transportation from the US will make economic sense for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your concern in this matter.
Councillor, City of Surrey
Now if you have read this far, you know what is coming
Wouldn’t you like to add your thoughts to this process: not as a comment to this post (though a copy here would be interesting) but your own thoughts: it seems that the Metro Board is actually listening.
The following is a Press Release that came into my inbox. I somehow doubt that the mainstream media will cut and paste the whole thing – so that’s what I am going to do.
“OUR DISAPPOINTMENT IS PROFOUND”
TERRACE, BC, September 1, 2016 – Northwest Aboriginal nations have emerged from two days of meetings with the federal government demanding that its “deeply flawed” environmental assessment of a massive LNG proposal be delayed, in light of unfair and incomplete consultation with affected First Nations.
“CEAA (the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency) has fundamentally misunderstood its fiduciary obligations to meaningfully consult the proper title holders,” said chief negotiator Glen Williams of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs.
A powerful alliance of hereditary leaders from Gitanyow, Heiltsuk, Lax Kw’alaams, Gitxsan, Takla Lake, Lake Babine and Wet’suwet’en Nations made it clear to CEAA through a series of meetings in July and August that plans by Malaysia’s state oil company, Petronas, to build a $36-billion liquefied natural gas pipeline and an export facility at the mouth of the Skeena River cannot and will not proceed without their support.
CEAA is nearing the end of a review process that started under Stephen Harper and will conclude with advice to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet on whether to decide for or against the project. Williams says the agency has been biased from the outset, and still seems “more than willing to act as an advocate for the flawed research of foreign multinational corporations rather than for the interests of Canadians.”
Despite pressure that Premier Christy Clark is exerting on the Trudeau government to decide in favour of the Pacific NorthWest LNG project in the coming weeks, northern First Nations are demanding an extension of at least four months to the CEAA process so that full consultation can occur. It was a message delivered loud and clear during this week’s two-day meeting with CEAA in Terrace.
“Despite strong commitments by Prime Minister (Trudeau) to fix Canada’s broken environmental review process, the only difference so far between Harper and Trudeau is our tremendous disappointment in the lack of change,” Williams added. “We expect better from Mr. Trudeau. Our disappointment is profound.”
Murray Smith, spokesperson for the Gitwilgyoots Tribe, one of the Allied Tribes of Lax Kw’alaams, said he was shocked by the disrespectful tone CEAA brought to the meetings. He said the agency neglected to acknowledge Aboriginal territorial rights and title during its presentations, yet went out of its way to acknowledge the Prince Rupert Port Authority as having “jurisdiction over the federal lands.”
“It is appalling that an agency of the federal government could be so ignorant of Canadian law and recent court decisions. Do they seriously believe that a rogue federal agency like their so-called port authority owns our lands, that they can destroy our resources without even talking to us? Why hasn’t our new Prime Minister paid any attention to his own words about nation-to-nation building?”
Murray continued, “Trudeau offers an open door for known corrupt foreign companies like Petronas and (Chinese oil company) Sinopec, yet he says nothing is more important to him than building relationships with First Nations people, but his actions so far do not reflect that at all.”
Presentations were made to CEAA regarding scientific data collected from several studies that confirm the uniqueness of salmon habitat at the mouth of the Skeena River, which is unlike any other area on the Canadian Pacific Coast. The Skeena is the second-largest salmon producing river in the country, and the estuarine ecology of Lelu Island (the site of Petronas’ planned gas hub) and Flora Bank (where Petronas plans a shipping facility) is unique, and uniquely fragile.
Hereditary leader and Wet’suwet’en spokesperson Chief Na’Moks commented that, “science undertaken by Skeena Fishery Commission was done over many years by the leading researchers and experts in their field, and by researchers from Canada’s leading universities. The proponent’s research was conducted by hired consultants tasked with trying to come up with justifications for an incredibly foolish decision by the Prince Rupert Port Authority to site a massive industrial development on top of irreplaceable salmon habitat. The work done to date by Petronas’ consultants has been rejected by CEAA at least five times as being flawed, but now CEAA seems to be buying into the deeply flawed justifications for a project that was simply sited in the worst possible place.”
Independent science, like that of Dr. Patrick McLaren, a geologist and leading expert on sedimentation dynamics, showed that if an LNG tanker berth was placed near Flora Bank it would cause irreversible damage to one of the most productive juvenile salmon nurseries in the world. McLaren’s testimony called into question evidence provided by the proponent, which grossly understates the impacts PNW LNG would have on already stressed salmon stocks.
“The risk from losing the sand from Flora Bank is far greater than the risk of accepting that no harm will come to Flora Bank,” Dr. McLaren said in his presentation.
Gitanyow chief Glen Williams said, “CEAA heard from real scientists who have conducted comprehensive research on the issue on all the potential impacts on our food supply, the ecosystem, the air, and the place we live. The science has been peer-reviewed and published in the world’s most prestigious scientific journals. When are we going to see any honour from government? When can we find comfort in a process that is really meaningful?”
The following items arrived in my inbox today from Greg Knox of skeenawild.org
Instead of trying to convert the pdf documents into text that is then pasted into the blog engine, I am posting them as pdf files which you can either download or read in many browsers.
The issue is the proposed construction of an LNG terminal on Lelu Island near Prince Rupert: I got the map from fisherynation.com
Transportation Minister Todd Stone did a presentation recently to the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. The government then put out the following Fact Sheet
I must admit that when I read it I became almost incoherent with rage. I think Myth #3 is the one that really did it for me. But then I have written more often about induced traffic more than any other topic I think. Seems that way to me. But fortunately I have found a fresh voice on these issues.
I am not going to take credit for the following letter to the editor which has been submitted by N. Herman of Richmond. He has generously allowed me to publish it here in case the mainstream media decide to ignore it.
No one disagrees that the Massey Tunnel is a traffic bottleneck. In many respects however, choosing the right solution can be a “life or death” proposition.
To replace the Massey Tunnel with a bridge has been a questionable proposition recently, and in fact (not a “myth”), it contradicts the same provincial governments own previous, public decision to add another tunnel. And make no mistake, the bridge is huge, in fact (not a “myth”), it will be the biggest bridge of its kind in North America. Think you are going to enjoy a quiet summer BBQ in the backyard ? How about a quiet night’s sleep? Aside from diesel particulate and other pollution blown down on your property, the din of bridge traffic noise, elevated above the river, may be heard miles into Richmond and Delta, and it will be relentless, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Stability of the bridge? It will be built in an area that is proven to have the highest risk of liquefaction during an earthquake. Think the “Fast Ferries” were a disaster? This liquefaction risk alone could turn $3.5 billion into worthless rubble in minutes. Has the provincial government completed its soil analysis ? Of course not, but its already spending your hard earned taxpayer money installing pilings.
We should also be clear that the real purpose of the bridge is to allow massive ocean going freighters to ship carbon based fuels on the Fraser River, which they cannot get access to now because of the tunnel. And contrary to Minister Stone, it is not a “myth” that the Port of Metro Vancouver repeatedly petitioned the provincial government to raise the bridge for this purpose. And what of those fuels? First we have LNG. Not a “myth” as claimed by Minister Stone, did you know that placing an LNG plant so close to a populated area is actually illegal in the United States due to EPA safety rules? If any LNG is spilled on the Fraser, the explosion radius can be measured in miles. If the USA has made it illegal, and it is against international industry regulations, why is the provincial government putting your life and the lives of your loved ones at risk?
And what about coal? Well as it turns out, it’s not even Canadian coal. The coal will be shipped from Wyoming in the United States. Again ask yourself “why” when Seattle and Portland both have good ports. Again, the answer is simple. Coal dust is carcinogenic: coal trans-shipment is banned in both those states. It’s not a “myth” that Premier Clark and Transportation Minister Stone seem to think its “a-ok” to put your life at risk doing something that is so dangerous, that it’s illegal in the USA. It currently appears that the Port further intents to pave over 2,500 acres of the Gilmore Farm right beside Steveston Highway in Richmond. So much for healthy local food.
[moderator: the location and size of the Gilmore Farm is the subject of some questions on another forum where Harold Steves clarifies: “The Gilmore Farm in East Richmond was bought by the port for port expansion. It is about 218 acres not 2,500. The Gilmore Estates is 324 acres south of Steveston Highway and has nothing to do with the port. Port Metro Vancouver wants 2,500 acres for port expansion and the Gilmore Farm is part of it.” ]
Then we have an expanded “jet fuel” tanker farm near the #6 Road entertainment complex, serviced by barges. So let’s ask ourselves what pervasive reason exists to use barges instead of just pumping the fuel from the Cherry Point refinery in Washington State? Again, it is a task of looking behind the real “myth” perpetrated by the provincial government. The moment fuel enters a pipe at the refinery, it must be paid for. When shipped by barges, it is not paid for until off-loaded. This allows the Airport consortium to therefore play the commodities market on fuel, which can amount to millions of dollars of profit a year. With no on-site personnel, and no dedicated fire station, how long do you think it will take for a disaster such as a massive firestorm to occur while they profit from playing the markets? Again, call your Liberal MLA and ask them why they think that’s ”a-ok” for the government to put our lives at risk.
The fact, not a “myth” is that Premier Clark, Transportation Minister Stone and the Port of Metro Vancouver have all flown to Ottawa to advocate for a project that according to a recent FOI request has zero documentation for a business case. Perhaps it was “triple deleted” or “verbal only”? Whatever happened to the provincial government’s pledge of honest disclosure and transparency? If a bridge is such a good idea, where is the report? Where is the independent environmental review”, and why should that even be an issue to them, if the idea is so good? The Mayors Council is demanding that the provincial government “come clean”, and stop this cynical illusion of public consultation that ridicules the publics intelligence with publicity stunts like the ” Debunking the Myths ” presentation that Minister Todd Stone tried to sell last week. Two pre- vetted “questions” were asked at the end of his presentation, and then he disappears faster than a magician.
People are “fed-up” of the government playing fast and loose with the truth. As the Transit Tax referendum results demonstrated, people are “done” with wasted tax dollars spent on pet projects to feed a political ego. The public is also “done” with false statements made regarding a bridge proposal with purported “massive public support” when investigative reporter Vaughn Palmer discovers that of 1,000 “consultations” only 140 were in support. This is as troubling as the Richmond Chamber of Commerce claiming “a majority of Richmond businesses support the bridge option” when they do not represent all businesses in Richmond, and another investigation reveals that in fact (not “myth”) over 80% of their members never even voted on the survey. Does every Mayor in the province realize that their own city’s budget for infrastructure has been slashed by 1/3 by the provincial government in order to build this one bridge? If not, they should be writing the Premier.
It is time to revisit the previous transit plan that Minister Kevin Falcon had developed that built a solid business case for an additional tunnel, and admit that a bridge has never been the best solution to relieve Massey tunnel traffic congestion. An expanded tunnel would economically, and with minimal environmental impact, allow for better traffic movement and an expanded rapid transit corridor.
The Province needs to listen and learn from the Metro Vancouver governments who are strongly united in their opposition to a bridge for good reason, and learn from them how best to create a transit corridor that will move us forward in a modern and effective way. The only real “myth” right now is the provincial government has been transparent and open. Enough of the Todd Stone flim-flam, and waste of our hard earned tax dollars.
Enough with unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats destroying the world heritage Fraser River with dangerous, life threatening over-industrialization that is illegal in other parts of North America. its time for citizens to take control of this foolishness before living in Richmond or Delta becomes a “life and death” situation.
Postscript : New Westminster Councillor Patrick Johnstone has now published a comprehensive debunking of the Ten Myths “Fact Sheet” on his blog – which in itself is well worth following
I came across this story by clicking on link bait “Something else Donald Trump is wrong about” on Vox. But I decided not to simply retweet that, firstly because we have all seen far too much about that fake tan monster and secondly this is important in both a Canadian and a BC context. (And I thought the people I wanted to reach might be less interested in that attention grabbing headline – “here’s some good news about the planet” seemed better to me!)
The Sarah Palin of BC politics currently occupying the premier’s chair is convinced that LNG is both an economic saviour and a way to reduce GHG emissions. It is, of course, neither.
Our newly elected Liberal government in Ottawa – elected on promises to reduce GHG and committing in Paris to hold global warming below 1.5℃ – is now wavering. Not only because they allowed the Woodfibre LNG plant to go ahead, despite the very obvious shortcomings of the current (i.e. previous Conservative, Harper driven) EA process. But also because of the re-election of Brad Wall, which was obviously what Catherine McKenna must have been worried about when she started talking about national unity as being more important than the survival of life on earth.
So what Vox did was reprint a table from the World Resources Institute which shows that 21 countries have managed to reduce their GHG since 2000 while at the same time as increasing their GDP.
By the way, the stated reduction in US emissions is has been shown to be wrong, mostly because of the way they have counted methane.
You will notice, of course, that Canada is not among them. BC, of course, had been following a somewhat different track thanks to its adoption of the carbon tax. But that progress has been slowing, as the carbon tax has been stalled, and so much attention is now devoted to exporting fracked gas. Not only is the market for LNG now swamped, so that finding a customer for BC LNG will not be easy despite our generous tax and royalty regimes, but the way that methane leakage from fracking and LNG processing is measured has been updated with better data to show that it has little advantage over coal in reducing GHG.
There is no one answer to how this decoupling has been achieved – but there are some useful pointers in the article you just have to scroll down below that big table. But also there is, in BC, at present, a really good analysis of just how BC can improve its performance. And if you suppose that it might just be possible that none of the proposed LNG plants actually get built, and we elect a government in BC that is actually serious about reducing both CO2 and CH4 emissions – as opposed to just taking credit for past success – then progress does actually seem possible. Although if we try to do both, it’s very unlikely.
At the time of writing, there is still time to make yourself heard as part of the consultation on the BC Climate Leadership Plan. But even so, the table above ought to enough to silence the people who keep talking about growing the economy and saving the environment as though they were at odds with each other.
UPDATE From The Tyee interview with Nancy Oreskes, Harvard climate professor and co-author of Merchants of Doubt
Oreskes said Canada cannot seriously address climate change while also building more giant pipelines to deliver Alberta’s oil sands bitumen or British Columbia’s fracked natural gas to proposed export terminals on both coasts.
“If Trudeau can say we’re going to do all these things,” she said, “that says to me that they have not truly assimilated what is at stake here.”
Trudeau raised eyebrows when he told a Vancouver sustainable business summit last month that “the choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to reach our [climate] goal.”
B.C. Premier Christy Clark similarly promotes liquefied natural gas as a climate solution: a “bridge fuel” to help China get off dirty coal power.
Oreskes called their positions dangerously “wishful thinking.”
My email inbox has been filling up today with a contretemps on LNG on the Fraser playing out in the letters page of the Richmond News. Since I have learned that it is sometimes a bit tricky getting to see on their web page what has been printed in the paper, I thought it might be useful to set out the correspondence here.
The day started with an email from Viviana Zanocco who is the Community and Aboriginal Relations Manager in External Relations department of FortisBC to undisclosed recipients.
As part of our commitment to sharing project-related information with you in a timely manner, attached is a letter in which we respond to misinformation presented in a recent letter to the editor published in the Richmond News; we’re sharing it with you prior to its distribution to the media.
In the letter, a local resident said the George Massey tunnel replacement project is being driven by the needs of LNG proponents and could impact fish and fish habitat. This is something we’ve heard repeated in the community as the discussion about the bridge replacement unfolds and requires clarification.
The fact is that LNG carriers that could one day ply the waters of the Fraser River would be able to do so even if the tunnel remains in operation. WesPac Midstream LLP is proposing to build an LNG marine terminal next to our Tilbury LNG facility, which we’ve safely operated on the shores of the Fraser River since 1971. The jetty would be built to accommodate vessels in the same size range or smaller than the existing vessels currently operating on the Fraser River. WesPac has confirmed publicly that the concept under review wouldn’t be impacted regardless of whether or not the tunnel remains in operation.
We also believe that LNG will play an important role for the marine transportation industry in reducing emissions and potential environmental impacts associated with the use of heavy oil and diesel.
FortisBC’s Richmond News_ Letter to the Editor is a pdf file you can read from that link
I am indebted to Susan Jones of Fraser Voices for the following rebuttal
In the letter to the Richmond News it is stated:
Whether the George Massey Tunnel is removed, replaced or expanded – or how the proposed bridge project is constructed – will have no impact on the WesPac proposal.
[This is] simply not true
Port Metro Vancouver (PMV) discussed LNG ships and the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project with the Gateway group.
The following are some notes I have on this topic. Those FOI emails acquired by Voters Taking Action Against Climate Change and newspaper articles indicate that the LNG operations were included in the discussions between PMV and the federal and provincial governments.
BC Government representatives began a series of meeting with Port Metro Vancouver in early 2012 as the port made it clear that:
“The tunnel is also a marine bottleneck. It was not designed for the size of ships used in modern day trade, which must access the Fraser River in Richmond and Surrey. As a result, the tunnel is becoming a significant obstacle to international trade on the Fraser.”
(Robin Silvester, CE0, Port Metro Vancouver: Vancouver Sun, April 29, 2012)
Discussions were underway about clearances for the new potential crossing and Port Metro Vancouver made it clear to the government that plans should include air drafts to accommodate large ships:
“Liquid bulk tankers with larger air draft requirements (e.g. LNG) should be considered,”
(Port Development Strategies Manager, Jennifer Natland, Nov. 29, 2012 to Project Planners)
On September 20, 2013, the B.C. Government announced plans to build a bridge instead of replacing the tunnel. Port Metro Vancouver was included in the following meetings for planning and design. Emails show that port staff urged the province to design a taller bridge, even though that would mean higher costs, a more challenging design and a steeper grade for Highway 99 traffic on both approaches.
On July 16, 2014, Port Metro Vancouver CEO, Robin Silvester queried:
“What is the air draft of the largest length LNG vessel that we could imagine in the river?”
Port marine operations director Chris Wellstood responded:
“…we feel that the 61-metre MAX air draft would allow for the larger part of the world’s LNG fleet” – tankers up to 320 metres long- to pass under new bridge and head up the Fraser.””
In another exchange of emails:
“On a June 5th a follow up meeting between PMV and Gateway was held to discuss PMV’s height requirement and as a result of that meeting Gateway was going to provide a revised drawing with a 130 m one-way channel for clearances…
…The main issue with additional height for the bridge is that the shore landings need to be higher and longer which increases the overall cost of the project…
…Please let me know if you see a problem with the original height requirements requested by PMV in 2012…”
(Chris Wellstood, Director Marine Operations & Security, Habour Master to Cliff Stewart, to Cliff Stewart, Vice President, Infrastructure Delivery, Port Metro Vancouver, July 15, 2014)
A June 2014 briefing note by port officials following a meeting with provincial counterparts cautions:
“…there are multiple challenges with high costs to achieve PMV’s requested height” of 65 metres”.
These negotiations did not include the public or the local governments. The public have not been provided with credible information for other options such as upgrading the existing tunnel, twinning the tunnel, a smaller bridge or retaining the status quo with better transit and restrictions on truck hours.
In spite of repeated requests for the business case for this Project, the provincial government has failed to produce this information. This should have been presented to the public and local governments for comment in the early planning stages.
Also considerations of safety with LNG vessels on the river has not been addressed.
This LNG production and export are putting the public at great risk as they contravene international LNG Terminal Siting Standards as outlined by the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO). The Standards claim LNG ports must be located where they do not conflict with other waterway uses as all other vessels must be considered as ignition sources. The narrow, highly populated lower Fraser River, and narrow shipping lanes through the Gulf Island do not meet the international safety standards of wide exclusion zones.
If that is not enough you might also like to read Elizabeth May’s trenchant comments on BC’s approach to LNG tanker safety