Looking for ways to export coal mined in Wyoming, Gov. Matt Mead said he will tour port facilities in British Columbia as part of a weeklong trade trip to Canada.
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Looking for ways to export coal mined in Wyoming, Gov. Matt Mead said he will tour port facilities in British Columbia as part of a weeklong trade trip to Canada.
Mead will meet with provincial leaders and talk to coal and rail representatives during the visit beginning on Wednesday.
Wyoming is the nation’s leading coal-producing state, but state officials are concerned about falling domestic demand as a result of global warming concerns and new federal regulations on coal-burning power plants.
Some see the need for more power generation by growing Asian economies as an ideal market for U.S. coal producers. But sending coal overseas requires West Coast ports.
Mining companies want to ship coal through ports in Oregon and Washington. However, opponents of coal trains in that region have raised concerns about dust, congestion and climate change.
British Columbia has ports that already ship U.S. coal, and Mead’s trip sends a message that Wyoming is willing to look elsewhere to get its coal to other markets.
“I’m not trying to play one region off another, but we have opportunities both within the United States, of course, and Canada,” Mead said.
A port near Vancouver, British Columbia, expects to ship up to about 30 million tons of coal this year, according to its operator, Westshore Terminals Investment Corp. In 2011, about 8 million tons of U.S. coal was shipped through the port.
Mead noted that residents in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia have similar concerns about coal shipments.
“I don’t think we as a state can just say those aren’t legitimate concerns,” Mead said. “I think we have to learn what those concerns are and try to address them the best way possible.”
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