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Cement industry applauds B.C. government action on carbon tax

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February 18, 2015 by STAFF REPORT

Lehigh Hanson's cement plant in Delta B.C. will be one the beneficiaries of the province's proposed carbon tax rebate that was announced in yesterday's budget.
Lehigh Hanson's cement plant in Delta B.C. will be one the beneficiaries of the province's proposed carbon tax rebate that was announced in yesterday's budget.

The Cement Association of Canada (CAC) endorses the British Columbia government’s efforts to improve the province’s carbon tax legislation to ensure it is applied equally to domestic producers and foreign imports.

The B.C. Carbon Tax is applied only to domestically produced cement while imported cement from the United States and Asia is exempt. The net result is losses to both the B.C. economy and the broader fight to reduce greenhouse gases, the association says in a release following yesterday’s B.C. provincial budget speech.

With local manufacturers facing higher costs under the carbon tax, cement imports from jurisdictions without a carbon policy have risen significantly, as have the GHGs associated with transporting that cement from foreign markets, CAC notes.

The proposed three-year, $22 million transitional incentives, announced in the budget, will encourage the B.C. cement industry to adopt cleaner fuels and further lower emission intensities.

“The financial incentives will assist the current inequity the industry faces as a result of imports where no carbon taxes are applied,” says CAC President and CEO Michael McSweeney. “The cement industry has been working with the B.C. government and other stakeholders for many years to find a win-win solution to protecting jobs, economic development, and the environment.

“B.C. produces some of the highest quality and lowest GHG cement in the world so the change makes sense both for the environment and for the province’s continued economic prosperity,” says McSweeney.

“B.C. cement is a strategic commodity, and a key component of concrete, which is essential to the implementation of the government’s ambitious plan for infrastructure and LNG development,” McSweeney adds.

“This incentive will help level the playing field for domestic producers of cement. It assists our company to ensure good jobs stay and continue to be created in British Columbia,” says Bob Cooper, Vice President, Lafarge Western Canada.

“Our competitiveness has been threatened by imports for the past five years and the move by the B.C. government will also ensure B.C. has a long-term and secure local supply of made-in-B.C. cement.”

“Our industry is committed to reducing our carbon footprint, and this change will allow it to remain competitive while we move towards lower carbon fuels and other sustainable technologies,” adds Pat Heale, Vice President, Lehigh Hanson.

“Beyond having the positive effect of supporting innovation in our domestic cement industry, the change will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in two ways: by decreasing emissions from the transportation of cement from distant offshore locations; and by creating a more level playing field for domestically produced, low-carbon cement, which lowers GHGs by up to 10 per cent compared to cement commonly manufactured abroad.”

During his budget speech yesterday, British Columbia Minister of Finance Michael De Jong noted the incentive program is being instituted because government recognizes the cement industry is facing competitiveness issues.

“We look forward to working with the government on implementation, and on continuing to do our part to grow a strong and sustainable economy,” McSweeney concludes.

The Cement Association of Canada (CAC) is the voice of Canada’s cement manufacturers. The industry provides a domestic supply of cement required to build Canada’s communities and critical infrastructure. The CAC and its members are committed to the environmentally responsible manufacturing of cement and concrete products. CAC’s members are: Ciment Québec Inc., Colacem Canada Inc., ESSROC Italcementi Group, Federal White Cement Ltd., Holcim (Canada) Inc., Lafarge Canada Inc.,Lehigh Hansonand St Marys Cement Group. The cement and concrete industry contributes more than $8 billion in annual sales and over 27,000 direct and indirect jobs to the Canadian economy. www.cement.ca

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