VANCOUVER — B.C. billionaire Jim Pattison, the largest shareholder in a coal-exporting site in British Columbia, has a message for Victoria – keep your hands off thermal coal shipped from Westshore Terminals Investment Corp.
The BC Liberal government, which wants to impose a hefty carbon levy on thermal coal exports from B.C. ports, might be toppled as early as Thursday by an alliance of the BC NDP and Greens. The Greens support such a carbon tax, though BC NDP Leader John Horgan hasn’t made it a top political priority.
Industry observers say Mr. Horgan, should he become B.C. premier, is unlikely to act as swiftly on thermal coal as Premier Christy Clark pledged to do during the campaign for the May 9 provincial election. But Westshore still faces the political threat of a clampdown on thermal coal, which is used by power plants to generate electricity.
Mr. Pattison said that with the weak long-term outlook for consumption of thermal coal in North America, Westshore should be allowed to continue exporting to electricity producers in countries such as South Korea, Chile and Japan.
“Over time, thermal coal, in my opinion, will be replaced either by natural gas or renewable energy. But there’s lots of thermal coal in the world, and it is certainly legal to export. If we don’t ship it, somebody else will ship it,” he said in an interview, referring to coal suppliers such as Indonesia, Australia and Russia. “All you do is take jobs away from B.C. and Alberta, and American jobs, too.”