British Columbians support coal industry

THEY may not yell the loudest, nor garner the most media attention, but majority rules, doesn’t it?

Staff Reporter

Despite media reports painting a strong opposition to coal exports in British Columbia and the province’s coal industry as a whole, a recent poll has shown that the majority of locals support it.

A poll conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion found 65% of British Columbians agreed that as a resource-based economy, British Columbia should be exporting coal to overseas markets so long as all environmental laws and regulations were followed.

The survey also showed that three-in-four (74%) British Columbians agreed that coal played an important role in the BC economy, with workers and companies involved in the industry paying taxes that support healthcare, education and social programs the province needs.

And 72% agreed that BC could not afford to lose the 26,000 direct and indirect family-supporting jobs created by mining and exporting coal.

“British Columbians support a strong economy and recognize that coal exports are a key part of creating jobs, supporting communities and providing revenues to government to pay for services such as health care and education,” spokesperson for the Canadian Coal Alliance, Alan Fryer said in a statement about the release of the research.

A number of the poll’s questions focused on the currently controversial issue of the reduction or restriction of exports at the province’s ports.

The survey, which sampled 816 British Columbians, said just under half (49%) were in favor of not restricting or reducing coal exports through BC ports because many BC jobs in coal mines, railways and ports would be lost.

Just over one-third (36%) supported restrictions and reductions of coal exports in order to fight climate change.

One of the most divisive questions was whether municipal governments should be able to take actions to restrict coal exports from local ports. 42% said that they should have that power, while 43% disagreed.

And 40% of those surveyed supported exporting both Canadian and US coal from BC ports, while a further 29% supported exporting only BC coal. Nearly half (49%) support the export of both metallurgical and thermal coal, while a further 27 per cent are undecided.

Meanwhile, 64% of respondents said it should be up to the countries that depend on thermal coal for electricity to decide to when and how to transition to other energy sources. Further, 70% believe that exporting coal from BC means people in developing nations can use steelmaking coal to make steel and grow their economies, increasing their standard of living.

A majority of British Columbians also believed that if BC were to stop exporting coal, other countries would take our place and the only change would be a loss of investment and jobs.

The one-day survey was conducted online among 816 randomly selected adult British Columbia residents who are Angus Reid Forum panelists.

Angus Reid conducts research on behalf of corporations, governments and researchers but did not disclose who commissioned this study.

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