The future of Alberta’s Eastern Slopes, and life-giving headwaters is still not secure.
Where are we now?
The 1976 coal policy has been reinstated. The Ministerial order issued in 2021 remains in place. This Ministerial order temporarily ensures that all coal exploration and development will be halted across the Eastern Slopes in all four coal categories until the completion of regional land use planning, including categories that were previously open to coal development in the 1976 Coal Policy. Final decisions on where coal exploration and development can proceed will be deferred to land use planning process.
While these actions are major wins for the tens of thousands of people who spoke up against coal, they do not represent the permanent protection from the damage of coal mine development that Albertan’s were demanding.
Additionally, four mine projects have been exempted from the restrictions in the ministerial order and will be allowed to progress through the regulatory process. This includes Mine 14 near Grande Cache, the Vista Coal Mine expansion project near Hinton, and in southern Alberta the Grassy Mountain Mine, and Tent Mountain.
The Coal Policy Committee’s review of feedback from Albertans made it very clear that more than anything, Albertans want certainty for the future of these landscapes. We do not need land-use planning to know that Albertans do not want new coal exploration or mining anywhere in the Rocky Mountains. Pushing the decisions down the road to an uncertain and historically slow-moving land use planning process is not adequate and could distract and detract from resolving other key land-use issues.
Community members, municipalities, ranchers, recreationalists, and conservation organizations got together in the spring of 2022 and provided a template for what that certainty should look like in “A Coal Policy for Alberta – 2022 and beyond”
Write to the government of Alberta now to request that the future of the Eastern Slopes are safeguarded from any future harm from coal mine development.