Fraser Surrey Docks: Metro has no right to regulate air quality
Read this July 9 story by Jeff Nagel in the Peace Arch News on the battle now working through the courts regarding Metro Vancouver’s legal authority to restrict coal exports based on health risks to local citizens.
Fraser Surrey Docks is going to court to challenge Metro Vancouver’s authority over air quality enforcement in the region, a move critics think is aimed at clearing the way for a controversial coal export terminal there.
The dispute isn’t directly related to the proposed coal-loading facility on the Fraser River, which is awaiting a final approval decision from the port authority.
Instead, it’s in response to a $1,000 air pollution ticket Metro issued Fraser Surrey Docks for the release of soybean dust last October from its existing dock operations.
But the two agencies are also at odds over coal exports.
Metro Vancouver has already opposed any new coal terminal and indicated it may wield its regulatory authority to deny an air quality permit for the project after approval if it isn’t satisfied with measures to address air pollution concerns.
Anti-coal activist Kevin Washbrook said a court win for Fraser Surrey Docks could clear a major obstacle for the proposal to run additional coal trains through White Rock and South Surrey and down the Fraser River by barge to Texada Island.
“This is the port and Fraser Surrey Docks trying to clear the decks for whatever future battles they see coming down the line,” Washbrook said.
The regional district board has also supported Lower Mainland chief medical health officers in demanding a health impact assessment of the coal export project, something the port has resisted.
“My guess is the port is tired of dealing with these pesky local governments and health authorities interfering with their planning and they’re trying to clear all that out of the way so they can run their own show,” Washbrook said.