Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being prodded by one of his country's regional heads to retaliate against President Trump's tariffs on Canadian lumber by imposing a ban on U.S. coal.
British Columbian Premier Christy Clark pressed Trudeau on Wednesday to enforce a trade ban on shipments of thermal coal, also called steam coal, at its terminal in Vancouver in response to the Trump administration's 24 percent tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imposed Tuesday.
"I told British Columbians that I would use every tool at our disposal to ensure we get a fair deal on softwood lumber," Clark said in an open letter to Trudeau. "Friends and trading partners cooperate," but "clearly, the United States is taking a different approach," she said.
Clark said U.S. coal producers rely on the terminal in Vancouver to ship coal to Asia, with a record of more than 6 million tons shipped last year. The U.S. lacks the capacity to move its own coal on the Pacific coast, making the ban an effective retaliatory response to the lumber tariff.
On Friday Washington state will release an environmental impact statement on a proposed coal terminal for Asian shipments.
Clark also said that steam coal is one of the most carbon-dioxide producing fuels, and banning its shipment would help Canada and the province meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Most scientists blame the emissions for raising the Earth's temperature, resulting in more severe weather, floods and drought.
Clark pointed out that over the past five years most of the U.S. proposals to build its own coal terminals have been rejected for environmental and ecological reasons.
One of the only U.S. companies that ships its coal through Canada is Cloud Peak Energy, reported Bloomberg. Ironically, Cloud Peak is one of a handful of U.S. coal companies pressing Trump not to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement.
"Cloud Peak Energy values our Canadian trading partners and hopes this matter is resolved to benefit all interests," said company spokesman Rick Curtsinger in a statement.
Clark said she will take actions on her own, if Trudeau does not act. She said states such as California, Oregon and Washington likely would support the ban because they support reductions in coal use. Most of Canada's provinces also support reductions in steam coal for electricity.