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Alberta organizations draft their own coal policy

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More than two dozen organizations including landowners and conservation groups are endorsing a new coal policy drafted by Albertans concerned about coal mining in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. As Erik Bay reports, they believe this proposed policy provides a responsible direction for any future coal development. – May 27, 2022

A coal policy for Alberta: 2022 and beyond. That’s the title of a new policy created by stakeholders across Alberta, based on the available public input submitted to the government’s Coal Policy Committee.

The document was created with the help of conservation and Indigenous groups, landowners, hunters and anglers.

Those involved in the document say it was drafted in response to the ministerial order the UCP implemented after the committee released its recommendations.

“They really failed to permanently protect the Rocky Mountains from coal mining,” Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society southern Alberta executive director Katie Morrison said.

“Instead they sort of put it on hold and punted the decision down the road to land-use planning.”

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In March, the province announced new coal-related exploration and development in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains would not be permitted.

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The ministerial order will remain in place until direction on coal activities is embedded in land-use plans.

“Our government listened to Albertans and put strong new restrictions in place to protect the eastern slopes,” a statement from a minister of energy spokesperson to Global News reads, in part.

“Our approach is based on the reports and recommendations of the Coal Policy Committee, which spoke directly to Albertans about coal, and which we fully accepted.”

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We wanted to push the government to look at what a potential good policy could look like,” said Livingstone Landowners Group (LLG) acting president Norma Dougall.

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LLG helped with the creation of the policy and is one of 30 organizations currently endorsing the plan.

The proposed policy has three pillars; no new coal exploration or new coal mines, assess the adequacy of the current mine financial security program and ensure timely and effect remediation of lands disturbed by mining activities.

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Dougall is hoping for legislation that ensures sustainability for years to come.

“Rather than just a policy, go for permanent protection of the eastern slopes because of its value and especially of the water,” Dougall said.

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“Look at the real economic gains — or lack thereof — of coal mining, especially in our areas,” Dougall said. “The environmental factors or costs that really weren’t addressed in 1976, climate change consequences.”

On Tuesday, the Town of High River became the first municipality to endorse the policy.

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