Community Groups Celebrate Passage of Strong Fossil Fuel Terminal Ban in Vancouver

On October 3, the City Council of Vancouver voted to ban new major fossil fuel terminals in Vancouver.

Vancouver City Council Bans New Major Fossil Fuel Terminals!

Together with a broad coalition of community groups and activists, we scored a major health, safety, and climate victory in Vancouver. On Monday, October 3, the Vancouver City Council voted to ban new large-scale fossil fuel facilities that could bring long, hazardous trains into Vancouver. The vote comes as a result of years of community advocacy and organizing, beginning with the defeat of the Tesoro-Savage oil train terminal. The ordinance will help Vancouver avert major health and safety risks to communities already disproportionately experiencing the harms of fossil fuel use.

Thanks to community support, the City Council passed a strong version of the ordinance, resisting industry pressure to weaken the proposal. 

To learn more about Vancouver’s new prohibition on bulk fossil fuel terminals, check out our OpEd published in the Vancouver Columbian, signed by a broad coalition of stakeholders.

Together we wrote, 

The reasons to act are clear: people in Vancouver experience environmental health risks far too often, and these impacts disproportionately fall on Black, Indigenous and people of color, lower income, and otherwise marginalized communities. Vancouver needs better protections to lessen the harm of fossil fuel pollution on citizens who already bear the brunt of fossil fuel pollution. According to the Washington Department of Health, some areas of Vancouver are among the worst in the state for environmental health disparities, including smog exposure and other hazards associated with fossil fuel use.

Thank you to the hundreds of Columbia Riverkeeper members and supporters who supported the ordinance. Additionally, we are grateful to have worked with the Alliance for Community Engagement in Vancouver who helped to ensure that the policy remained as strong as possible in the face of industry pressure. Community advocacy over many years led to the City Council’s vote.

Read our coalition statement celebrating the passage of Vancouver’s fossil fuel ordinance below.

Community Groups Celebrate Passage of Strong Fossil Fuel Terminal Ban in Vancouver

October 3, 2022 (Vancouver, WA) — Community groups are celebrating a decision by the Vancouver City Council to ban new large-scale fossil fuel facilities. The new ordinance takes the place of a years-long moratorium on major facilities that could bring long trains of flammable or toxic fuel into Vancouver. The new policy will permanently prohibit large-scale coal, fracked gas, and other fossil fuel projects in all zones across the City while allowing for safety upgrades at existing facilities. The ordinance would also allow new and expanded cleaner fuel facilities as conditional uses, which allows for public input.

During the City Council’s public hearing, the overwhelming majority of speakers supported the proposed ban on new bulk fossil fuel facilities. The City’s vote to approve the ordinance was unanimous.

"We appreciate our Vancouver City Council and staff for developing and passing this important health and safety protection for Vancouver," said Cathryn Chudy, a Vancouver resident who organized for years in favor of the ban. “This reflects our Council's commitment to addressing the safety risks and environmental health disparities that are disproportionately felt in the neighborhoods where these facilities are located."

“Vancouver’s citizens have been advocating against new bulk fossil fuel facilities here for years,” said Heidi Cody, Co-Director of Alliance for Community Engagement, a coalition of groups supporting the ordinance. “We applaud our City Council for allowing ongoing public input on this issue, and for passing a permanent ordinance that blocks new and expanded bulk fossil fuel infrastructure. This is the day we’ve been working toward.”

“As a mother of two children growing up in Vancouver, I appreciate that this ordinance helps Vancouver meet its climate goals and also its environmental justice goals,” said Monica Zazueta, a Vancouver resident, mother, and climate activist. “Without this, our air quality would diminish and our climate-changing pollution would increase, and my kids would breathe dirtier air.”

“The ordinance is a bulwark to protect Vancouver from long trains carrying liquefied natural gas (LNG), liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), and other dangerous fuels,” said Dan Serres, Conservation Director with Columbia Riverkeeper. “The Columbia River is the lifeblood of our region, and more fossil fuel terminals would greatly exacerbate the safety and spill risks we already face from existing terminals.”

“The passage of this ordinance puts Vancouver squarely in the leadership role of protecting the health and safety of not only its own community but those who live along the rail and waterway it is so connected to,” said Rebecca Ponzio, Climate and Fossil Fuel Program Director for the Washington Environmental Council. “Thank you to the community of Vancouver for your tenacity and focus on officially closing the door against dangerous fossil fuel projects.” 

The ordinance is set to take effect in November.