“Albertans have spoken loud and clear and we have heard them. Not only will we reinstate the full 1976 coal policy, we will implement further protections and consult with Albertans on a new, modern coal policy. Alberta’s government is absolutely committed to protecting the majestic Eastern Slopes and the surrounding natural environment.”
When Sonya Savage, Alberta’s Minister of Energy made this statement around coal development in Alberta in February 2021, it seemed to mark a significant milestone in the fight to protect the Rockies from coal development.
Now, over a year later, promises about meaningful consultation and protection ring hollow, and it is clear that the Government of Alberta has not heard Albertans. While the Coal Policy Committee presented a report and recommendations on the future of coal in Alberta, the government has not meaningfully responded to these recommendations.
Throughout the coal consultation process, community members, First Nations, municipalities, and community groups indicated concern for water conservation, habitat loss, climate change, and Indigenous and treaty rights. While a coal policy is better than no coal policy, Albertans advocated strongly for a “no-coal” policy to preserve the Rockies and the communities that surround them – and the government did not listen.
Instead, the government of Alberta re-implemented the 1976 Coal Policy and deferred decisions on the future of coal to land use planning processes.
But Albertans aren’t done putting up a fight. The Council of Canadians is proud to endorse “A Coal Policy for Alberta – 2022 and Beyond.” This document is a community-drafted policy that demands an Alberta Beyond Coal, and has over 30 signatories, including the municipality of High River.
The policy presents a vision for the future of Alberta that encourages sustainable communities, a healthy, thriving environment, engagement with Indigenous communities as equal partners, and a recognition of the current context in the province. The pillars of this vision are:
- No new coal exploration and no new coal mines
- Assess the adequacy of the current mine financial security program
- Ensure timely and effective remediation of lands disturbed by coal exploration and mining activities.
“A Coal Policy for Alberta – 2022 and Beyond” was written by Albertans, for Albertans, and “builds a vision for the future that represents the best of Alberta and Albertans.”
To read the full policy, click here. If you are a part of a community group from Alberta that is interested in endorsing this policy, please add your organization’s support at the above link.