Thirteen arrested blocking BNSF coal train in White Rock

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According to one source, Warren Buffett considered BNSF a promising investment because he foresaw the growing need to transport coal out of the US, where it is losing its market due to its notoriety as a potent instrument of climate change. According to one activist, the transport of coal from the US to the Westshore Terminals has increased by 60% in the last two years.

Author and founder of Bill McKibben finds Buffett’s association with coal puzzling: Buffettt is known for his support for tax equity and his planned legacy to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Yet he enables massive coal emissions with climate impacts which will hit hardest on the world’s most vulnerable people. Scholars such as Jaccard and McKibben believe that BC must take responsibility, not only for the emissions resulting from the extraction and transportation of fossil fuels, but also for the emissions from their use at a final destination.

While the US has either stopped or put on hold 100 coal plants, Jim Pattison’s Westshore Terminals are still an eager recipient for BNSF’s coal delivery. Its website boasts:

Coal from the United States Powder River Basin is being exported through Westshore at record levels, exceeding 8 million tonnes in 2011. Westshore's future has never been brighter, with the most bullish coal market in the past 30 years. With this in mind, Westshore has signed long-term contracts with its major customers [including the United States Powder River Basin]  to ensure security of supply well into the future. 

The coal from Powder River Basin contributes to BC’s dubious distinction of being North America’s largest export gateway for fossil fuels. Westshore Terminals alone shipped 27.3 million tons of coal in 2011. That’s about 55 million tons of carbon dioxide, the amount of carbon dioxide that BC gives off in burning all its fossil fuels combined.

According to Kevin Washbrook of, the coal transport through BC benefits the 1% at the expense of everyone else: profit for Buffett, the third wealthiest man in the world, and Jimmy Pattison, the 5th wealthiest man in Canada. It creates no jobs for BC residents and creates conditions that hit vulnerable people the hardest. Washbrook was among those arrested for blocking the coal train.   

Statements by persons arrested for civil disobedience:

“These actions are necessary because they are commensurate with what is really going on. A lot of people are doing stuff but it falls short of what we need. We have to say that fossil fuel pollution is destroying the earth and it has to stop. It’s plain and simple. No more discussions, no more half measures. It’s time to say “let’s stop it” and to figure out the best way to do that. The science is so clear. David Suzuki  said 10-15 years ago that we have 10 to 15 years left to act. It’s clear as can be that these trains are taking coal to places where it will be burned and put into the air and it has to be stopped.”

 “We are on the wrong course as far as climate goes and rational appeals aren’t being listened to so this is the last avenue. To not do something would just be ignorant or ignoring the facts. Terrible things are ahead if we don’t take action now. That’s why I’m here.  There’s so much information out there. I wouldn’t be able to face my grandchildren or children if I didn’t do anything with what I know now. I think other people will be catalyzed into action when they realize that there are lots of us involved and they won’t be a lone person on an island. With other people to support them and armed with the facts, people will increasingly take part. The truth is out there. The science has been telling us for decades that we are responsible for it and capable of changing it.”

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