05/10/2013 06:02 EDT | Updated 07/10/2013 05:12 EDT

More U.S. Coal Exports Destined For Vancouver's Port, Say Environmentalists

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Scotland, UK.
Kinder Morgan's decision to drop plans to build three coal terminals in Oregon could mean more U.S. coal exports heading north by rail to the ports of Metro Vancouver, local environmentalists say.

Kevin Washbrook, the spokesman for Voters Taking Action for Climate Change, says he was happy to learn that Kinder Morgan scrapped the terminals in Oregon on Wednesday.

But now he's worried it means more coal trains will be heading north to Vancouver from Wyoming and Montana.

Washbrook says U.S. coal already represent about one-third of all the coal loaded on to ships at the Westshore Terminals at the DeltaPort facility near Tsawwassen.

"It's huge and growing and as more and more American cities on the West Coast stop the construction of coal ports there, the pressure to increase American coal is just going to increase."

In the most recent report from Port Metro Vancouver, U.S. coal exports increased 56 per cent, while B.C. and Alberta coal exports decreased 12 per cent, he notes.

Westshore Terminals at DeltaPort is already Canada's biggest coal port, and Port Metro Vancouver plans to double coal exports from the Neptune Terminal in North Vancouver, and is exploring the possibility of building a new coal barge transfer terminal on the Fraser River in Surrey.

Washbrook says if the expansion plans at Port Metro Vancouver all go ahead, B.C.'s Lower Mainland region will become the biggest coal export point in North America.

Several Metro Vancouver mayors have joined church and community groups, which have said they plan to fight any further coal port expansion.

"We have a situation where big American coal companies want to dump an unwanted product into foreign markets, less regulated markets and they are using us as the doormat to get it out of North America."

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