Coal lobby stresses jobs, economics as terminal controversy heats up – by Gordon Hamilton (Vancouver Sun – February 16, 2013)

The Coal Association of Canada has released a special report on the industry’s economic impact in British Columbia as the battle heats up over coal exports from Port Metro Vancouver.

Arguing that coal is a catalyst for economic development, trade and employment, coal association president Ann Marie Hann said economics has been missed in the discussion over coal exports.

Opponents of Vancouver’s growing role as a coal exporting centre cite coal’s high greenhouse gas emissions and the health risks from increased coal dust along transportation routes as reasons for shelving expansion plans.

Port Metro Vancouver has already approved one expansion at Neptune Bulk Terminals in North Vancouver, and is considering a new coal terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks in Surrey. Metro Vancouver is now North America’s largest coal exporting port.

“Clearly this is a response to the ‘coal export controversy’ now raging in Metro Vancouver,” Kevin Washbrook, of the citizens group Voters Taking Action On Climate Change, said of the industry report. He said the industry is attempting to build an argument in response to concerns about the environmental threat posed by coal.

Hann said the economic argument needs to be included in the debate.

“Certainly the report is now timely because one of the things that we feel has been missed in this discussion, is the important role that the coal industry does play in British Columbia,” Hann said Friday. “It provides substantial employment and obviously considerable revenues to the government that they can then use to support some of the social programs that British Columbians are looking for.

“It’s a significant player on the B.C. economy and we just want to make sure that British Columbians fully recognize the role that it plays,” she said. “The suggestion is that we should stop doing it. Then the question becomes: What are the alternatives that are going to replace coal on an economic basis? Where are these new jobs going to be coming from? What is going to replace the substantial revenues that are going to the government?” Most of the coal mined in B.C. is used for steelmaking, rather than power generation, with Japan and Korea the prime destinations. However, demand from China is on the rise.

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