EDITORIAL: Clear the air

Metro's opposition of a new coal-export terminal in Surrey is strongest manifestation yet of a groundswell of opinion against the terminal

There can be no denying last Friday’s 21-4 vote by Metro Vancouver’s board to oppose a proposed new coal-export terminal in Surrey is the strongest manifestation yet of a groundswell of public opinion against the terminal and the increased coal-train traffic that would result.

But one should be cautious of over-emotional arguments and grandstanding by members of organizations that have no real power to affect the outcome.

It is notable that Lower Mainland cities are asked to accept something that some U.S. cities are rejecting. And it may well be time, as opponents assert, for the country as a whole to draw the line environmentally and voice resistance to fossil fuels, such as thermal coal.

However, by dragging in too many non-germane arguments against this specific plan, opponents run the risk of devaluing legitimate objections, making them all seem spurious by association.

Yes, more trains in Crescent Beach and White Rock add noise and limit access to otherwise seemingly idyllic communities. And yes, on a much grander scale, coal-powered energy in China leaves behind a huge carbon footprint, with its pollution felt a continent away in not-intangible smoke clouds.

But worrying about such hyper-local or excessively broad issues is not the mandate of Port Metro Vancouver as the financially self-sufficient port authority serving this area.

Opponents of coal should be wary of a pending health-impact assessment by Fraser Health’s chief medical officer. While this might seem positive, it is a card that can be played only once. If the findings are less than conclusive that coal-carrying trains pose a real risk, it will discredit other public-health concerns related to coal, and they will be all the harder to argue in future.

Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin Silvester has already seized on the threat that the Surrey terminal could be closed down if health concerns are proven. This, he claims, is de facto proof that coal-handling procedures, to this point, have been little cause for concern.

In reality, imported coal has been handled in B.C. for decades with far less stringent controls. The coal at the proposed terminal would not be piled in the open, and port, coal industry and union reps remain adamant that coal dust can be suppressed so that it poses no risk.

It behooves those who doubt this to offer even more convincing proof, rather than simply blowing smoke by resorting to easily dismissed emotional appeals.

Just Posted

Delta mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

White Rock dog poop conspiracy picks up steam

Opponent says theory is a ‘load of crap’

Surrey MLA slams NDP poverty reduction strategy plan

Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt says the NDP’s poverty reduction plan is ‘underwhelming’

Father thanks Surrey Mountie for shooting hoops with kids, ‘changing perspectives’

‘We’re just like everyone else,’ says Surrey officer who stopped to play basketball with kids

Surrey Memorial is first in B.C. with POEM machine used for endoscopic treatment

Surgeon says equipment is ‘next-level, futuristic-type’

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Dutch police question new suspect in deadly tram shooting

Police are looking for additional suspects in the shooting

Starbucks to test recyclable cups, redesign stores in B.C., U.S. cities

The company also said it plans to redesign its stores as it adapts to increasing mobile pick-up and delivery orders

In pre-election budget, Liberals boost infrastructure cash to cities, broadband

The budget document says the Liberals have approved more than 33,000 projects, worth about $19.9 billion in federal financing

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

Teacher reprimanded after incident with Grade 11 student in school gym

Gregory Norman Brock was teaching at a high school in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Avalanche control tomorrow on Highway 1

Expect closures of up to two hours east of Revelstoke

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

Most Read

l -->