Alberta says public consultations on coal mining will begin March 29 but there’s no decision yet on how they will go ahead.
“I have directed my department officials to bring forward a comprehensive consultation plan that is by Albertans and for Albertans,” Energy Minister Sonya Savage said Tuesday in a release.
“The details of the process will be announced before consultations begin.”
Last spring, Savage revoked a policy that had protected the Rocky Mountains and their eastern slopes from open-pit coal mines since 1976. The decision was made the Friday before a long weekend without public notice or input.
Opposition built and spread until it included small-town mayors, First Nations, popular entertainment figures and a broad spectrum of Albertans. More than 100,000 signatures were gathered on petitions opposing coal-mining in one of the province’s best-loved and ecologically important landscapes.
Widespread public outrage forced Savage to reinstate the protection earlier this month with a promise Albertans would be consulted on a new coal policy.
She didn’t cancel any of the leases sold in the interim and thousands of hectares of mountainside have been slated for exploration activity.
Those leases remain valid. And although Savage promised “mountaintop removal” mining wouldn’t occur, she didn’t rule out other types of surface mines.
“With the input of Albertans, a modern coal policy will protect the areas Albertans cherish while allowing responsible resource development in the appropriate places,” Savage said Tuesday.