a town in southern Alberta takes a firm stance on coal – fr

a town in southern Alberta takes a firm stance on coal – fr

LETHBRIDGE – High River City Council is letting the Government of Alberta know exactly where it stands when it comes to developing a new modern coal policy for the province.

The city is proposing an Alberta Coal Restriction Policy that contains three key principles:

  • No further exploration or development of coal will be permitted on the eastern slopes of Alberta. There will be no more categories in this area and, instead, there will be only one defined today as the eastern slopes;
  • Existing coal mining operations in the Hinton / Grande Cache areas will be allowed to retire free of charge, and;
  • Reclamation of lands disturbed by coal exploration activities with coal exploration permits issued before February 8, 2021 must be reclaimed by December 31, 2025.

High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass said the inherent value of the eastern slopes only exists if the landscape remains intact.

“You don’t have to look very far to see the results of the coal mining activity and what it is doing to the watersheds,” Snodgrass said.

City council will send a letter to all municipalities in Alberta on Wednesday, asking communities to consider supporting their policy proposal or coming up with their own ideas that should be presented to the government’s Coal Policy Committee, which heads the public consultation process.

Snodgrass said he didn’t want to get to the point where the province is worried about issues like reclamation, selenium contamination or environmental effects.

“Don’t let that happen at the beginning,” he says.

On Tuesday, the government quietly released a summary of the results of the Coal Policy Committee’s initial investigation. It shows that more than two-thirds of survey participants (70%) believe that Alberta’s coal mining has a major effect on them.

The “environmental impacts of coal development” and “if and where coal development takes place” were ranked by respondents as the most important issues when reviewing Alberta coal policy.

When asked to rate the significance of the economic benefits of coal development to Alberta and its communities, over 64% responded “not at all important”.

“Despite all of these methodological flaws and leading questions, Albertans have made it clear that they do not want to see any more coal mines on our eastern slopes,” said NDP environment critic Marlin Schmidt.

“I think the government would be wise to listen to them. “

“These results strongly suggest that most Albertans do not want to see coal mining numbers in Alberta’s future,” said AWA Director of Conservation Ian Urquhart.

“They emphatically point out that Albertans do not want to see coal mining in the Rockies and the foothills and that they have no confidence in the government’s commitment to regulate coal mining in a respectful manner.” of the environment.

Of the 24,752 Coal Committee survey participants, 91% were from southern or central Alberta.

The AWA says the geographic distribution of opposition to coal mining should be of political concern to the Kenney government.

“These areas are the foundation of UCP’s electoral support,” Urquhart said. “Seeing such overwhelming and unreserved opposition to the government’s commitment to promoting the coal industry should make the UCP’s political strategists shudder.”

Lethbridge West MP Shannon Phillips said she heard from hundreds of voters who expressed the same concerns outlined in the poll.

“Albertans are worried about Jason Kenney and the UCP’s plan to surrender previously protected areas to surface mining in our springs,” Phillips said.

“This is already jeopardizing jobs and economic development. From beef production and processing, crop production and processing, all downstream to the Oldman River watershed and the Highway 3 corridor.

The office of Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage has issued a statement on the results of the investigation.

“The survey provided valuable information for the Coal Policy Committee to take into account as it becomes engaged,” it read.

“We encourage all interested parties to participate in the process. This includes plans for the committee to meet with many groups, including municipalities. It is ultimately the committee’s responsibility to gather feedback, which will inform their recommendations in their final report.

“We will not be making any permanent political decisions until the engagement process is complete and we have received the results. “

The statement says the government is committed to ensuring Albertans can participate in an open dialogue about the province’s long-term approach to coal development.

Snodgrass said his council had looked into the matter “until Sunday” and determined the risks are far too high for the city to support any kind of future mining activity.

He says the city will gather any feedback it receives from other municipalities and report to the Coal Policy Committee by July 2021.


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