AFTER years of pressure from health professionals, climate experts, municipal governments and citizen groups including Dogwood BC, Premier Christy Clark suddenly moved to ban American thermal coal exports through Lower Mainland ports just hours before Wednesday’s leaders’ debate on TV.
“With an election in just two weeks, the BC Liberals need to be able to point to at least one environmentally friendly policy,” said Ariel Ross, Dogwood’s coal campaigner. “Still, I’m glad to see the Premier take one simple step to stop dirty American coal trains from polluting B.C. communities. This is a great opportunity for all the parties to join the twenty-first century and close the chapter on this dying industry.”
Port communities in Washington, Oregon and California have said no to exporting thermal coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, citing health risks and financial instability. B.C. is the last outlet for thermal coal in the Pacific Northwest.
More than 60,000 Dogwood supporters have called on the province to phase out thermal coal exports, leading the charge against the controversial Fraser Surrey Docks project through campaigns like Beyond Coal, Defend Our Farmland and Put the Brakes on U.S. Thermal Coal.
Ross noted that the province has always had the power to impose a levy on cross-border coal trains that would effectively choke off U.S. exports, a fact alluded to on Wednesday by Clark. They could also require thorough health and environmental assessments.
“Clark is bowing to pressure from constituents. It took a long time, but we’re finally here,” said Ross. “My community of Delta will be celebrating this, as well as calling on every party to end our province’s climate hypocrisy and phase out thermal coal exports through B.C. ports.”