B.C.’s Clark calls on Ottawa to ban coal exports

SURREY, B.C. — Premier Christy Clark is taking aim at the American coal industry in the wake of the United States imposing hefty tariffs on British Columbia’s softwood exports.

Clark wrote a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking Ottawa to ban the shipment of thermal coal through B.C. ports, the bulk of which comes from the United States.

The B.C. Liberal leader made the announcement Wednesday at a paper products company in Surrey while campaigning for the May 9 provincial election, saying an impasse over softwood lumber “gives us the freedom to do what I think is unquestionably the right thing.”

Thermal coal is dirty, she said. “It fouls the air. It fouls the oceans. It’s terrible for the environment.”

Clark said a ban will help develop the province’s liquefied natural gas industry, arguing if China shifted from coal to LNG it would have “a massive impact” on greenhouse gas emissions.

“It’s the right thing to do, but I haven’t felt free to be able to do that because I haven’t wanted to upset negotiations that seemed to be going along, granted at a slow pace,” she said.

“But now that they have slapped a duty on Canada and they’re calling us names, we’re free to take an action that’s long overdue.”

The U.S. is imposing duties of up to 24 per cent on lumber imports from Canada. The B.C. Lumber Trade Council says the province exports $4.6 billion in softwood lumber to the U.S. each year.

The federal government was unable to provide an immediate comment.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver said he was pleased by Clark’s lobbying efforts to ban thermal coal, but he accused the Liberals of waiting too long to act.

“Washington, Oregon and California have already moved to ban thermal coal exports. It is high time that British Columbia showed leadership on this issue as well,” he said in a statement.

“I sincerely hope that this move the premier has made is more than just election politics.”

NDP Leader John Horgan said as premier he would speak with Trudeau about energy, raw log exports and “a whole host of issues that I believe we have to play on this negotiation.”

Horgan was in Burnaby on Wednesday where a campaign stop focused on the soaring price of housing in Metro Vancouver.

Researcher Clark Williams-Derry said it is difficult to underestimate the impact a ban on thermal coal exports would have for the coal industry in the western U.S.

“Essentially, what this does is it wipes out the last remaining option for U.S. coal exporters to get their products off the northwest coast to Asia,” said Williams-Derry, who works for the Sightline Institute, an energy think tank based in Seattle.

“If this goes through, it pretty much puts the kibosh on any export potential for the future.”

The American coal industry has fought unsuccessfully for years to expand export capacity on the American West Coast, meaning virtually all thermal coal in the western U.S. travels through B.C., Williams-Derry said.

Records from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority show that 94 per cent of the 6.6-million tonnes of thermal coal exported through the Port of Vancouver in 2016 came from the United States.

Williams-Derry said it will be difficult for Clark to use thermal coal as a bargaining chip in negotiations around softwood now that she is on the record saying coal is dirty.

“The genie is now out of the bottle,” he said.

“This is a game of brinksmanship, and what she has done in that statement is push things past that brink. There’s a line in the sand and it’s going to be difficult for her to walk back from that.”

Just Posted

Suspect arrested after collision in stolen truck

Driver faces charges in court today

WATCH: From humble beginnings Red Deer-based wrestling promotion is growing

It wasn’t that long ago that Dylon Featherstone and the Canadian Wrestling… Continue reading

WATCH: Families make yo-yos and weaved yarn at Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery

It was all about making yo-yos and yarn bombing at Red Deer… Continue reading

Solve mysteries with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in Red Deer

At three sold-out one act Sherlock Holmes plays in Red Deer, theatre… Continue reading

WATCH Replay Red Deer Feb. 18: Your weekly news highlights

Watch news from Red Deer and Central Alberta

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Toddler breaks leg after boot sucked into escalator at Vancouver airport

VANCOUVER — A Calgary woman is reminding parents about the dangers of… Continue reading

Liberals looking at creating use-it-or-lose-it leave for fathers, Trudeau says

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is raising the idea of creating… Continue reading

Trump gets angry about election meddling, but not at Russia

‘Weirdest thing’: Trump expresses anger, but not over Russian election-meddling

New doping charge could hurt Russia’s chance at reinstatement

Russia could lose its chance to be reinstated before the end of the Winter Olympics because of a doping charge against curling bronze medallist Alexander Krushelnitsky.

#Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Being painted by the same sweeping brush as those alleged to have mistreated women has angered men

Virtue and Moir break their own world record

Virtue and Moir break short dance record to sit first in ice dance at Olympics

Calgary man dies in Mexico following sudden illness

Troy Black was with his wife, Lindsay, in Puerto Vallarta when he began vomiting blood on Thursday

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month