Coal mining company uses ISDS to sue Canada for phasing out coal fired power stations

22 November 2018: Investment Arbitration Reporter has reported this week that US company Westmoreland Coal has filed a claim against the Canadian Government under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), because they anticipate profit loss when the province of Alberta phases out coal generated electricity.

Canada and the US agreed in October 2018 to eliminate foreign Investor rights to sue governments (ISDS) from the revised version of NAFTA, known as the US-Canada-Mexico-Agreement, but the new deal will not be implemented until all three countries have ratified it through their domestic processes.

Alberta’s left-leaning provincial government elected in 2015 aims to phase out coal-fired energy by 2030. This is part of stronger strategy to tackle climate than the previous Conservative government, which contemplated a 50 year lifespan of coal-fired plants when the company bought the coal mines in 2013-14.

Westmoreland claims it has been denied National Treatment and the Minimum Standard of Treatment under NAFTA rules. They claim they will lose $441 million CAD or more due to early mine closures and rehabilitation of land required.

Find out more on ISDS cases against environmental laws from this radio interview by AFTINET convenor Pat Ranald and others, in which an ISDS lawyer confirms that such cases could happen in Australia.