By Roy L Hales
Fifty one of BC’s faith leaders have written Christy Clark an open letter requesting she reconsider her decision to approve the expansion of coal facilities on Texada Island. This follows the discovery, last month, that the provincial government secretly approved a plan to expand for a tenfold to twentyfold increase of the material being exported to China. They wrote that coal is “the fossil fuel most directly linked to the rise of CO2 emissions in China” and “making money at the expense of the health and prosperity of the planet is wrong.”
They are leaders of the Sikh, Jewish, Unitarian, Quaker, Roman Catholic, Anglican, United Church of Canada, Presbyterian, and Evangelical Lutheran communities.
Most come from the Lower Mainland area, but there were some from Vancouver Island, Powell River and even Texada Island.
“This has global implications,” Rabbi David Mivasair, of Ahavat Olam Synagogue in Vancouver, told the ECOreport. “It also impacts us here and we can do something about this here.
The Lafarge Canada facility on Texada has been handling up to 400,000 tonnes of coal a year, from Quinsam Mine in the Comox/Courtenay region of Vancouver Island, for the past two decades.
Chris Bernard, a Chaplain and seasonal resident of Texada, said ”The oysters are visibly sick their outer shells dark gray and, once opened, they exhibit black coal particulate streaks in their flesh.”
He added that digging down through the sand, you pass though black layers.
The irony being that the metallurgic coal Lafarge has been handling is cleaner than the thermal coal coming up from the US.
“We are concerned about the moral and environmental issues regarding the proposal to build a new coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD) that would expedite the shipment of up to 8 million tons of U.S. thermal coal through Surrey, the Fraser River, and Salish Sea to Texada Island,” the faith Leaders wrote collectively.
“In May of 2012 Premier Clark stated that responsibility for climate change does not stop at BC’s borders. She also claimed that BC LNG exports would be good for the world and good for the climate because they would allow other countries to wean themselves off of dirty sources of energy like thermal coal,” said Rosemary Cornell, a member of the Sustainability Circle at Canadian Memorial United Church and letter organizer. “However, when asked to take a stand on current plans to export US thermal coal from Fraser Surrey Docks and Texada Island to be burned in Asian power plants, the Premier has remained silent. The letter sent yesterday by faith leaders encourages her to consider the moral implications of promoting export of a fuel that is contributing to horrific air pollution in China and rising CO2 emissions worldwide.”
“Our province has shown strong leadership in the past on commitments to reduce GHG emissions and our municipalities have robust plans to reduce carbon output. The traffic in coal is not compatible with those plans,” the collective letter states.
“In our weekly sermons we encourage our congregations to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. Many of them are walking the talk, reducing their carbon footprint in their daily choices of what they buy and how they travel. Now our congregations are asking us to act as emissaries of their message to you, to embrace a shift in the way to do business. Therefore we will not stand idly by when we see local actions that will contribute to climate destabilization.”
It was signed by:
- The Reverend Beth Hayward, Senior Minister, Canadian Memorial United Church, Vancouver
- Rabbi David Mivasair, Rabbi Emeritus, Ahavat Olam Synagogue, Vancouver
- The Reverend Dr. Dorothy Jeffery, Minister, St. Stephen’s United Church, East Delta
- The Reverend Bruce Sanguin, Minister in the United Church of Canada, Vancouver, founder of Home for Evolving Mystics
- The Reverend Debra Thorne, Minister, Beacon Unitarian Church, New Westminister
- The Reverend Phillip Hewett, Minister Emeritus, Unitarian Church of Vancouver
- The Reverend Dr. Daniel Bogert-O’Brien, Minister, Colebrook United Church, Surrey
- The Reverend Scott Swanson, Interim Minister, Crescent United Church, Surrey
- The Reverend Dr. Stephen Atkinson, Minister, North Shore Unitarian Church, West Vancouver
- The Reverend Samaya Oakley, Developmental Minister, First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo, Nanaimo, BC
- Christopher F. Bernard, MDiv., Chaplain, Vancouver
- The Reverend Maxine Pirie, Order of Ministry, Powell River United Church, Powell River
- The Reverend Peggy Jensen, Minister, St. George’s United Church, Courtenay
- The Reverend Dr. Gary A. Gaudin, Minister, South Arm United Church, Richmond
- The Reverend Janice Young, Minister, St. John’s United Church, Sechelt
- The Reverend Bethan Theunissen, Minister, Trinity United Church and Heartwood Community Café, Vancouver
- Janette McIntosh, Organizer, Metro Vancouver KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Vancouver
- Janet Gray, BC-Yukon KAIROS organization, Victoria
- The Reverend Dr. Adela D. Torchia, Rector, Anglican Parish of St. David and St. Paul, Powell River
- Henri Lock, United Chaplain, University of Victoria
- The Reverend Karen E. May, Minister, Texada Island United Church, Van Anda, BC
- The Reverend Dr. Allan Saunders, Minister, First Metropolitan United Church, Victoria
- The Reverend Mark Green, Lead Minister, Cadboro Bay United Church, Victoria
- The Reverend Julianne Kasmer, Chaplain, Our Place Society, Victoria
- Ellen Pye, Clerk of Vancouver Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker), Vancouver
- The Reverend Emilie Teresa Smith, Parish Priest, St. Barnabas Anglican Church, New Westminster
- The Reverend Dr. Margaret Cornish, Rector, St. Alban Anglican Church, Richmond
- Sister Cecilia Hudec, Sisters of Charity, Richmond
- Sister Gertrude A. Jocksch, Sisters of Charity and Programs in Earth Literacies, Richmond
- The Reverend Dr. Victoria Marie, Pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community Society, Vancouver
- The Reverend Fr. John Tritschler, Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver
- The Reverend Patricia Dutcher-Walls, Vancouver School of Theology
- The Reverend Rebecca Simpson, Minister, St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Mission
- Mrs. Janet Eastwood, Leader of Children, Youth and Family Ministries, Haney Presbyterian Church, Maple Ridge
- The Reverend Geof Jay, Moderator for the Presbytery of Westminster and Minister, St. Andrew’s- Newton Presbyterian Church, Surrey
- The Reverend Laurie Deacon, Minister, St. Aidan’s Presbyterian Church, New Westminster
- The Reverend Dr. Brian Fraser, Minister, Brentwood Presbyterian Church, Burnaby
- The Reverend Dr. Glen Davis, Faculty member, Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver
- The Reverend Joyce Davis, President, Westminster Presbyterial
- The Reverend Mary Fontaine, Executive Director, Hummingbird Ministries of the Presbytery of Westminster
- The Reverend Dennis Howard, Minister, Langley Presbyterian Church, Langley
- Dr. Sallie McFague, Distinguished Theologian in Residence, Vancouver School of Theology, V ancouver
- The Reverend Brenda Nestegaard Paul, Pastor, Faith Lutheran Church, Powell River
- The Reverend Ian Nestegaard-Paul, Priest, Anglican Parish of St. Bartholomew’s, Gibsons
- Gian Singh, President of Gurdwara Dasmesh Darbar , Surrey
- Giani Narinder Singh, Head Priest, Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran, Surrey
- The Reverend Tim Dutcher-Walls, Chaplain, New Vista Society, Burnaby, and Faith & Society Committee, BC Synod (Lutheran)
- The Reverend Dr. Gregory Mohr, Bishop, BC Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church, New Westminster
- The Reverend H. Paul Schmidt, Pastor, Retired. Evangelical Lutheran Church, Delta
- The Reverend Tim Le Drew, Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Richmond
- The Reverend Lori-Anne Boutin-Crawford, First Lutheran Church, Vancouver