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Will Canada and Mexico help get coal blocked by American cities to Asian markets?

FILE PHOTO: Dump trucks haul coal and sediment at the Black Butte coal mine outside Rock Springs, Wyoming, U.S. April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart/File Photo

PortandTerminal.com, February 10, 2020

More and more American cities are refusing to export coal from their terminals. Will the Canadians and Mexicans help US miners ship their product to market instead?

WASHINGTON – U.S. Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said last Friday that he hopes Canada and Mexico could help export U.S. coal to Asia to get around the blocking of shipments by West Coast states concerned about the impact of the fuel on climate change.

What’s going on?

It’s been getting harder and harder for America’s miners to ship their coal to Asia. That’s because cities up and down the US West Coast have been refusing to let their ports be used to ship it out.

Last month, lawmakers in Richmond, California, voted to impose a ban on coal, targeting a terminal that handles about a quarter of exports from the U.S. West Coast.

READ: California City Votes to Shut Crucial Port to U.S. Coal Exports

Richmond though is only the most recent city to fight back against coal passing through their terminals to get to Asia. Washington and Oregon have joined California and also blocked permits for coal ports on concerns about coal’s impact on climate change.

“I’ve got bigger ambitions than just Richmond,” Mayor of Richmond Tom Butt said in an interview following the announcement that coal exports from his town would be blocked. “I’d like to get rid of coal worldwide.”

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Ships are loaded with coal at Westshore Terminals in Delta, B.C. The terminal in Canada is North America’s largest single coal export facility

Energy Secretary Brouillette said he expects the two U.S. neighbors will offer opportunities to export coal in talks that could be facilitated by the new North American trade agreement, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, that President Donald Trump signed last month.

“That’s why the USMCA was so important,” Brouillette said at an Atlantic Council event in Washington. “We hope to work more collaboratively with both Mexico and Canada to find export facilities to get the coal from Wyoming,” and other states in the U.S. West to Asia and other global markets.

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