The Fossil Fuel Wars in British Columbia and Canada

Published on The Bullet, Socialist Project’s E-Bulletin No. 915, by Roger Annis, December 23, 2013.

The fossil fuel industry offensive in British Columbia and across Canada is proceeding relentlessly. This is a report from some of the key fronts of the fossil fuel wars.

Tar Sands: … //

… Natural Gas Fracking: … //

… Oil by Rail: … //

… Oil Pipeline Volatility: … //

… Coal Shipments from British Columbia and the Paving Over of Farmland:

  • Delta is the latest municipality in the Vancouver region to vote in favour of a full health and environmental assessment of the proposal to build a new coal export terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks on the Fraser River. On December 16, it voted in favour of a comprehensive review.
  • The resolution approved by Delta city council and the supporting documentation is doubly significant. It calls for a comprehensive review of all coal operations in the Lower Mainland, to be undertaken by a broad, inter-agency committee. This would look more broadly than the Fraser Surrey Docks proposal alone. It would review (my emphasis – RA) all coal operations, and it urges, “THAT recommendations from the independent interagency review committee be forwarded to Port Metro Vancouver for implementation and action, including but not limited to, the comprehensive independent assessment of the health and environmental impacts associated with the handling and transportation of coal.” In other words, all of the activity of Port Metro Vancouver (PVM) should be reviewed.
  • According to a city councilor of Delta to whom I spoke today, there are between 300-400 train movements in the Lower Mainland per week, including 40 or so to the Roberts Bank coal and container terminal in Delta. That number includes 75-150 CP trains and 200-300 CN trains, as well as BNSF trains coming up from the U.S.
  • PVM is a federal government agency that favours Fraser Surrey Docks. It is trying to evade a full, comprehensive review of FSD. It commissioned its own assessment of the project, conducted by SNC Lavalin. Surprise, this gave the project a green light.
  • Those opposing the project as it stands include the Greater Vancouver Regional District, a growing number of the adjacent municipalities, and both public health boards in the Vancouver region.
  • Delta BC is exceptionally affected by the vast expansion over the past decade of train, auto and ship traffic in the Vancouver region. It sits at the crossroads of so much of that traffic. Much of its land space is the exceptionally rich agricultural land of the Fraser River Delta.
  • The federal and provincial governments have spent billions of dollars in the region to build new highways and highway bridges and expand railway lines and ports. Commercial and retail space has also grown significantly, much of it on agricultural land.
  • A column in yesterday’s Vancouver Sun by Pete McMartin, the first of a series, voices the serious concern of Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie over the ongoing industrialization of the Vancouver region (facilitated by the cozy ties of the region’s planners and decision-makers to the fossil fuel industry). McMartin writes, “Richmond, like all the municipalities along the lower Fraser, finds itself faced with what seems like a well-choreographed sequence of events, seemingly decided years ago and without their significant input, that will utterly change the nature of their municipalities.”
  • Richmond is one of the Fraser Delta municipalities directly threatened by rising ocean levels caused by the increased extraction and burning of fossil fuels. Somehow, Richmond and its neighbouring municipalities are going to have to find billions (yes, billions) of dollars in the near future to raise the levels of the dikes that protect them from the rising oceans.
  • The McMartin column is alarmingly titled, “Who’ll pay to dike the Pacific?”
  • A recent article by U.S. writer Dahr Jamail examines dire consequences for human society and the human race that leading scientists and economic forecasters hold out if the unbridled expansion of capitalism and its fossil fuel consumption continue. Naomi Klein recently wrote an overview with a similar theme, titled “How science is telling us to revolt.” The evidence is overwhelming of the need to replace the madcap, limitless-growth capitalist order with a rational, planned society that can make a rapid transition to a new economy cognizant of the Earth’s ecological limits. The fight against Canada’s madcap fossil fuel industry owners and facilitators is a key front in that battle.
  • Roger Annis is a writer in Vancouver BC. He publishes a website featuring his writings and those of others at A Socialist in Canada.

(full long text with many hyper-links).

(This article was first published in the Vancouver Observer. This is a slightly updated and revised version).


Dollar Hegemony,Monetary Geopolitics and the IMF: The Symbiosis between Global Finance and Power Politics, on Global, by José Miguel Alonso Trabanco, Dec 21, 2013;

The Changing Contours of US Imperial Intervention in World Conflicts, on Global, by Prof. James Petras, Dec 21, 2013.

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