Level the Playing Field for U.S. Coal Shipments

With 12 million tonnes of coal already being transhipped from Montana and Wyoming to Asia, and more on the way, British Columbia is fast becoming the main western port of exit for U.S. exports of thermal coal, the worst contributor to global greenhouse gas pollution. U.S. coal competes for port space with B.C.’s own metallurgical coal (used to make steel). As a result, B.C. is facing proposals to ship more coal through Fraser Surrey Docks and Texada Island. As well, there are plans to build more coal shipping capacity to handle B.C.’s domestic metallurgical coal in North Vancouver. This would enable millions more tonnes of thermal coal to reach markets, put more coal trains and barges through neighbourhoods and coastal communities, and result in massive amounts of greenhouse gases polluting our atmosphere.

A movement of community, health, labour and business groups has come together to stop the expansion of U.S. thermal coal exports in B.C., in particular the proposal for a new trans-shipment project at Fraser Surrey Docks and Texada Island. Federal and provincial permits for the projects have been approved for the proposal despite widespread opposition and unprecedented public engagement on the issue.

All the while, U.S. thermal coal producers are taking advantage of an unfair playing field. Under the Carbon Tax B.C. coal producers pay $30/tonne of carbon for the greenhouse gases emitted in the mining, processing and transportation to ports, but U.S. producers don’t have to pay the tax. If U.S. coal exporters also paid for those emissions it would better reflect the real cost of thermal coal on our communities, our infrastructure and our climate. Equalizing carbon pricing for coal shipments from B.C. ports would level the playing field, bolster B.C.’s climate leadership and further discourage port expansion for a risky product from a dying industry.