Coal Mine Development Remains a Risk to Albertans
The Government of Alberta must develop a coal policy that protects Alberta's Eastern Slopes
The future of Alberta’s Eastern Slopes, and life-giving headwaters is STILL not secure. Demand action from the province to safeguard the future of the Eastern Slopes and protect them from any future coal mine development.
Where are we now?
The 1976 Coal Policy has been reinstated. The 2021 Ministerial Order temporarily ensuring that all coal exploration and development be halted across in the Eastern Slopes, including in categories that were previously open to coal development under the 1976 Policy, remains in place. Final decisions on where coal exploration and development can proceed have been deferred to the regional land-use planning process.
These actions represent major wins for the tens of thousands of Albertans who spoke up against coal. However, they do not represent the permanent protection from coal mine development that Albertans wanted to see happen.
Moreover, four 'advanced' projects have been exempted from the restrictions delienated in the Ministerial Order, and will be allowed to progress through the regulatory process. These projects include Mine 15 near Grande Cache, the Vista Coal Mine Expansion Project near Hinton, as well as Grassy Mountain and Tent Mountain Mines in Southern Alberta.
The Coal Policy Committee's review of feedback made it clear that, above all else, Albertans want to guarantee the safety and future of these landscapes. We do not need to go through land-use planning to know that Albertans do not want new coal exploration or mining anywhere in the Rocky Mountains. Kicking the decision down the road by relying on the uncertain, and historically slow-moving, land-use planning process is not adequate — and could detract from resolving other key environmental issues.
Community members, muncipalities, ranchers, recreationalists, and conservation organizations came together in the spring of 2022 to provide a comprehensive template for what that certainty should look like in "A Coal Policy for Alberta — 2022 and Beyond."
Why are the Eastern Slopes so important?
The impacts of coal mining are far-reaching and long-term. They include:
- Putting our water source at risk by leaching contaminants such as selenium into streams and rivers;
- Destroying habitat for wildlife — including species-at-risk like caribou, grizzly bears and native trout — through both exploration and mine development;
- Using large, unsustainable quantities of water and thereby reducing the amount available for fish, wildlife and agriculture;
- Detracting from the availability and enjoyment of nearby hiking, camping and other recreation and tourism as a result of heavy industrial activity, including open pit-mines.
Write to the Government of Alberta today to demand the Eastern Slopes be protected from ANY future coal mine development.