A Court of Queen’s Bench hearing on the controversial coal policy wrapped up Wednesday. The province of Alberta is trying to compel Justice Richard Neufeld to dismiss an application for a judicial review.
The case centres on a UCP government decision to allow open-pit coal mining on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
Richard Harrison, the lawyer for two ranchers who are seeking the judicial review, argued the energy minister didn’t have authority to make that decision, one that was made without consultation with the public.
“To remove the protection of land in place for 44 years without consultation, or even a phone call, doesn’t do my clients justice,” Harrison said.
“The energy minister doesn’t have the authority on her own to rescind the policy.”
Justice Neufeld hopes to deliver a decision within the next couple of months.
Many people across the province are monitoring the case.
David Blair owns Fish Tales Fly Shop and has been open to educating his customers about the potential impacts.
“To add open-pit coal mining to the most sensitive areas is a risk nobody should be taking and it literally affects the future of our business,” Blair said.
“It’s a visceral gut punch.”
He hopes the court forces the province to reconsider its June 2020 decision.
“Ultimately I would like to believe politicians listen to the people and I think people in Alberta are speaking very clearly about this issue,” Blair said.
The controversy has been the topic of many conversations.
Freelance graphic designer Edwin Mundt runs The Big Steak Graphic Design and created a T-shirt for supporters of restoring the policy.
“We live in a soundbite era and everything comes down to a symbol or meme or logo, and people wearing that can identify with the movement,” Mundt said.
His design mimics the provincial crest and is a nod to former Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed, who created the coal policy in 1976. Partial proceeds from the sale of the shirts will support the fight to restore the policy.
“It’s some way of giving back. I enjoy the mountains as much as anyone else,” Mundt said.
“I’m a longtime Albertan and I agree with what a lot of people are saying about keeping the watershed pure and the fallout from mining would be too devastating.”