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VANCOUVER — British Columbia will review parts of a proposed coal export project under its jurisdiction but is unlikely to weigh in on other concerns, including whether Port Metro Vancouver should export more U.S.-mined thermal coal, provincial Mines Minister Bill Bennett said.
“As a minister who believes in natural resource extraction and understands the very important connection between resource development and the Canadian economy in general and the B.C. economy in particular, I don’t think we can pick commodities or pick particular industries and say, ‘Well, we don’t like that – we’re not going to do that one,’” Mr. Bennett said Tuesday.
“The rules and regulations and standards apply to everyone,” he added. “And if you want to build something or do something in B.C. and you can meet those rules and regulations and standards, then it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or what commodity you’re dealing with – if you meet those standards, you should get a permit for what you want to do.”
Mr. Bennett was referring to a proposal by Fraser Surrey Docks to build a coal transfer facility at its existing site on the Fraser River. Under the proposal, filed in 2012, coal mined in the United States would be shipped to Fraser Surrey Docks by rail, loaded onto barges and then transported to Texada Island, where it would be loaded on ocean-going vessels for transport to export markets.
Port Metro Vancouver, a federal body, is reviewing the project. B.C. has jurisdiction over mining activities on Texada Island.
Voters Taking Action Against Climate Change, a group campaigning against the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks coal export facility, has suggested the province could block the project by rejecting a proposal from Lafarge Canada Inc. to upgrade its facilities on Texada Island.
The province has a role to play in ensuring the review of the Texada portion of the project is more detailed and stringent than what is currently expected, VTACC director Kevin Washbrook said.
“The Texada issue isn’t about picking and choosing which commodities B.C. exports,” he said. “It’s about government protecting the public interest by properly doing its job of evaluating the health and environmental impacts of a massive increase in coal exports from Texada Island.”
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