Notley doubts B.C. has authority to impose tax on coal exports
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Notley doubts B.C. has authority to impose tax on coal exports

Premier Rachel Notley says she doubts British Columbia has the authority to implement a proposed carbon tax on coal exports through its ports, which is feared to damage Alberta's industry.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said this week a Liberal government would tax thermal coal exports from her province to make them uncompetitive, in retaliation to new softwood lumber tariffs imposed by the U.S. government.

Notley told reporters Wednesday the move would be bad for Alberta, which ships coal through B.C. to overseas markets.

"People who support that idea or support people proposing that idea ought to think about where their loyalties lie because, quite frankly, it's not good for Alberta," Notley said.

"I also don't know the particular idea will get too far because I'm not convinced that authority actually exists within the provincial government."

Clark has called on Ottawa to respond after the U.S. imposed an average duty of 20 per cent on softwood lumber imports from Canada, which will hurt B.C.'s forestry industry.

Calling thermal coal among the dirtiest sources of power and heat, Clark said this week she would impose a roughly $70-per-tonne carbon tax on thermal coal exports, if the federal government doesn't act.

An overwhelming majority of the 6.6 million tonnes of thermal coal exported through B.C. ports last year had come from U.S. mines, but the Coal Association of Canada said Clark's proposed "egregious levy" would damage the Canadian industry.

"This is type of policy-making is not in the spirit of the barrier-free trade and would have significant impacts on coal production outside of B.C.," the group said in a statement.

"It would be unfortunate to see these longstanding business relationships – which create jobs and economic opportunity to British Columbians, Albertans, and Canadians at large – become a casualty of heated political rhetoric in the final legs of an election campaign."

Clark's coal tax comes at a time that she is considered Alberta's ally on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which would expose the province's crude to overseas markets. Clark's opponent, B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan, is a staunch opponent of the pipeline.

Notley said the provinces and the federal government should be working together on a response to U.S. softwood lumber tariffs, instead of adopting policies that create "winners and losers."

With files from The Canadian Press and Vancouver Sun

rsouthwick@postmedia.com 

source : Calgary SUN
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