Canadian and US environmental groups unite against Salish Sea fossil fuel exports

New joint campaign launches with cross-border town hall meeting 

August 21, 2013

VICTORIA – A coalition of environmental groups will hold simultaneous town hall meetings today on either side of a tar sands and coal shipping route that follows the Canada/US border. The events – near Victoria, BC and on San Juan Island, WA – mark the launch of a new joint campaign by the Wilderness Committee and Georgia Strait Alliance to highlight the combined impacts of coal and tar sands export projects proposed in the Salish Sea.

The public meetings will cover the Kinder Morgan tar sands pipeline and tanker proposal, as well as the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks and Pacific Gateway Terminal coal export facilities – all of which are situated along the network of waterways known as the Salish Sea. The town halls will feature an audio link so that participants on both sides of the border have the opportunity to share ideas and discuss how to ramp up international opposition to these climate-changing fossil fuel projects.

“The idea is to highlight the interconnection between different jurisdictions in the Salish Sea,” said Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. “This is one ecosystem with one climate, and in fighting fossil fuel exports we have to treat it that way.”

A local whale watching company from Victoria will be participating in this event, representing local businesses that depend on a vibrant, healthy Salish Sea for their income.

“The Kinder Morgan pipeline alone would lead to 400 extra tankers per year carrying toxic tar sands oil through crowded Salish Sea shipping routes. A major oil spill – which would have devastating consequences for the environment and coastal economy – is only a matter of time,” said Alexandra Woodsworth, Energy and Shipping Campaigner at Georgia Strait Alliance.

“If the current tar sands and coal exports proposals go ahead, the Salish Sea will be transformed into a global carbon corridor,” said Eoin Madden, the Wilderness Committee’s Climate Campaigner. “Green initiatives undertaken at the municipal or regional level will essentially be nullified by the massive increase in fossil fuels shipped through the Salish Sea.”

“We are the Achilles Heel for coal and tar sands exports,” said Stephanie Buffum, Executive Director of Friends of the San Juans, who is helping organize the town hall on San Juan Island, Washington, overlooking the shipping lanes of Haro Strait. “The health and well-being of both Canadian and US islanders are inextricably tied to the health of the waters around us. Because of the geography and marine conditions here, experts say more than 85 per cent of the oil from a major spill would probably escape containment. A spill anywhere in the Salish Sea could be devastating to all of us.”

The Canadian town hall is being held at Arbutus Cove Park in Saanich (view map), while the American event is taking place at Lime Kiln State Park, on the west side of San Juan Island (view map). The locations are visible to one another across the 13-kilometre stretch of Haro Strait.

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For more information, contact:

Torrance Coste, Vancouver Island Campaigner | Wilderness Committee
(250) 516-9900, torrance@wildernesscommittee. org

Alexandra Woodsworth, Energy and Shipping Campaigner | Georgia Strait Alliance
(778) 316-5558,

Eoin Madden, Climate Change Campaigner | Wilderness Committee
(604) 353-9603,

US contact:

Stephanie Buffum, Executive Director | Friends of the San Juans
(360) 472-0404,

More information about the fossil fuel projects proposed for the region:

Map of fossil fuel projects 
Report on combined carbon impacts