Gulf Islands anchorages are being used for dirty U.S. thermal coal

Many of the cargo freighters anchoring in BC’s Southern Gulf Islands are waiting to pick up shipments of Canadian grain and metallurgical coal, both of which are important to our national economy.

But there’s another group of ships contributing to the anchorage problem that generate almost nothing for the Canadian economy and what’s worse, serve to contradict Canada’s claims of being a world leader on climate action.

We’re talking about ships waiting to load ‘dirty’ thermal coal used to produce electricity in China and India and a major source of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. This thermal coal is mined in Wyoming, shipped by rail to Canada and ends up at terminals in the Port of Vancouver because West Coast State governments in the US have banned it. U.S. coal is not purchased or owned by Canadians and is not consumed in Canada so it is not subject to import tariffs, carbon tax or other levies.

So to recap, not only are these coal ships anchoring for weeks in BC’s Southern Gulf Islands, where their diesel generators pollute the air day and night and their anchor chains scour the ocean floor, their ultimate purpose is to support the use of thermal coal powered electricity, which Canada says it opposes.

As former Environment Canada senior research scientist James Kerr explains in the Vancouver Sun, “These foreign ships should have no right to trespass in Canadian waters, let alone loiter for weeks, waiting to pick up U.S. cargo en route to foreign countries. This doesn’t occur among the pristine U.S. San Juan Islands or in other U.S. waters where these U.S. trade and shipping activities should be based.”

Help us tell the Canadian government to stand up for local interests and the planet by banning Canadian exports of US thermal and live up to our country’s promise to help the world convert to clean energy. Send your letter today.

More: Cowichan Gazette: Where do parties stand on dirty coal shipping? Canada aids and abets this assault against the planet