An oral hearing began Monday, Jan. 17, in a case in which environmental group Greenpeace is opposing the Canadian government and the Port of Metro Vancouver.
The port is proposing to build a coal storage facility at the Fraser-Surrey docks that would allow ships carrying up to 10 million tons of coal a year from the United States to stop at the Port of Metro Vancouver before being shipped to Asia.
In the Greenpeace lawsuit, the environmental group argued that coal dust from the ships would damage local orca habitats and that increased coal volumes across the lower mainland of Canada would significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.
A federal court in Canada will have to decide whether Port Metro Vancouver failed to adequately consider potential environmental impacts when it approved plans to build a coal storage facility next to existing port infrastructure.
Greenpeace also argues that Port Metro Vancouver did not follow proper procedures in approving the plans, which is their function.
The outcome of the case could affect other proposed coal storage facilities on the west coast of North America. It could also affect future plans to expand coal exports across Canada, especially in British Columbia, where the vast majority of coal exports are concentrated.
Coal is currently responsible for about 40% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. The world's largest coal exporter, Indonesia, has recently pledged to limit exports and focus on supplying Asia with its own coal. The Canadian Coal Association says Asia is an important destination for Canadian producers and expects that demand in Asia will eventually be greater than in North America.
The tense relationship between environmental groups and online casinos
Greenpeace is calling attention to how the Canadian government is allowing online casinos to make huge profits without making any contributions to the country's budget.
Negotiations between the groups and Canadian representatives will take place Feb. 15 in Ottawa. Green Party leader Natalie Bennett is expected to attend, as well as Dr. Julia Reed and senior officials.
Greenpeace hopes to get the message out that online casinos, as regulated businesses, need to do more for their communities. The meeting is part of the "Raising Standards, Raising Games!" campaign, which aims to make online gambling a responsible industry. The campaign is the first step in getting online casinos to have a "fair, positive impact" on their communities.
Greenpeace launched the ad campaign to emphasize that online gambling companies are required to contribute to government and charitable foundations. The group believes that since the online gambling business only accounts for 2-4% of Canada's GDP, this figure could be at least doubled.
The Greenpeace group emphasizes that the online gambling industry certainly contributes a lot to the system and has a large profit margin, so it is able to pay more into the country's coffers. The best Canadian online casino, , responded by saying, "It's a strange statement because you can't expect an industry that's only been around for 15 years to have accumulated cash reserves. It's not like we're Starbucks or Google, which have been around for decades and accumulate donations in their own name."
Greenpeace also argues that it is currently impossible to regulate online casinos in Canada because of the anonymous nature of the Internet. Anonymity has made online casinos very popular among Canadians. The Canadian Gaming Association estimates that about three percent of the population plays casinos at least once a month. The number of avid players is much smaller because spending more than $1,000 in two months triggers tax reporting requirements.
The meeting will be a first for all parties involved, as this is the first time online gambling companies are being directly impacted by environmental groups.