Canada: Public pressure halts coal exploration on the Rocky Mountains

Published by MAC on 2021-05-04
Source: Mining.com, Alberta.ca (2021-04-29)

The consultation process received feedback from 25,000 people.

After receiving feedback from 25,000 people, the Canadian province of Alberta decided to halt all coal exploration projects on Category 2 lands, which cover a 90,000-square-kilometre area on the eastern slopes and Foothills of the southern part of the Rocky Mountains.

Public feedback was provided via an online survey that ran from March 29 to April 19, 2021. The majority of respondents expressed concerns about coal exploration. 

“Thank you to the thousands of Albertans who took part in the initial survey. Your voices are being heard. We are halting exploration activities in Category 2 lands because we remain steadfast in our commitment to having an open and honest conversation about the long-term approach to coal development in our province” the Ministry of Energy Sonya Savage said in a media statement.

Alberta has the third largest proven oil reserves in the world – 10% of total proven global oil reserves.

See also:

2021-01-28 Alberta’s controversial coal policy unearths anger

Alberta halts coal exploration on Rocky Mountains

Valentina Ruiz Leotaud

25 April 2021

After receiving feedback from 25,000 people, the Canadian province of Alberta decided to halt all coal exploration projects on Category 2 lands, which cover a 90,000-square-kilometre area on the eastern slopes and Foothills of the southern part of the Rocky Mountains.

Public feedback was provided via an online survey that ran from March 29 to April 19, 2021.

“An initial review of the results illustrates that many Albertans have significant concerns about coal exploration,” the Ministry of Energy said in a media statement. “Based on this insight, the Coal Policy Committee – an independent group appointed to lead comprehensive public engagement to inform the development of a modern coal policy – has recommended to the government that coal exploration in Category 2 lands be suspended.”

According to Energy Minister Sonya Savage, the affected companies have said they will cooperate with the pause. There are currently six coal projects in the exploration stage – four of which began under the 1976 policy, and two that were approved after the policy was revoked in May 2020.

Given what the public has said, the minister mentioned that she is inclined to go for the second round of consultations based on a more in-depth analysis of the responses.

Savage pointed out that preliminary analyses of the survey show that the majority of respondents feel the management of the province’s coal resources affects them and believe that there are areas of the province that are not appropriate for coal development.

Although detailed results of the survey were not released, the government official also said that most respondents expressed concerns about coal exploration and are interested in participating in the engagement process through additional online surveys and virtual meetings.

Early results also show that most people believe that the province’s coal policy needs to be examined, particularly when it comes to the environmental impacts and locations of coal development.

Recoiling

The consultation process is the result of Alberta’s Energy Ministry bowing to public pressure after the massive backlash it received following its May 2020 decision to rescind the province’s 1976 policy governing coal exploration and development in the eastern slopes of the Rockies.

Initially, the lifting of the policy was framed as a modernization of regulations. However, the move alarmed multiple groups – including ranchers, environmental and First Nations groups as well as municipalities – worried about the potential effects of mining on water quality, property values, wildlife habitat and more.

At present, the terms of reference for the Coal Policy Committee do not include water and land use, yet, Savage said Albertans are welcomed to express their concerns about the impact of coal on water and the environment, on tourism and other industries.

In addition to having to reinstate the 1976 policy, the minister had to issue directives to the Alberta Energy Regulator prohibiting mountain top mining as well as the issue of any new coal exploration approvals on Category 2 lands until a new policy is in place.


Coal exploration halted on Category 2 lands

In response to concerns raised by Albertans, including those who participated in a recent online survey, Alberta’s government is immediately halting all coal exploration projects in Category 2 lands.

https://www.alberta.ca/release.cfm?xID=7801300005F6F-02C6-8BE0-44B167B8913C4304

Apr 23, 2021

Almost 25,000 Albertans from across the province shared feedback to help inform the next steps of the coal policy engagement through an online survey from March 29 to April 19.

An initial review of the results illustrates that many Albertans have significant concerns about coal exploration. Based on this insight, the Coal Policy Committee – an independent group appointed to lead comprehensive public engagement to inform the development of a modern coal policy – has recommended to the government that coal exploration in Category 2 lands be suspended.

Energy Minister Sonya Savage has directed coal companies to halt exploration. The affected companies have indicated they will cooperate with the pause.

“Thank you to the thousands of Albertans who took part in the initial survey. Your voices are being heard. We are halting exploration activities in Category 2 lands because we remain steadfast in our commitment to having an open and honest conversation about the long-term approach to coal development in our province.” Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy

“As promised on March 29, the Coal Policy Committee is here to engage with, and listen to, Albertans. We have heard clearly that halting exploration on Category 2 lands was a necessary first step to ensure that the public engagement process can continue in good faith. Our committee has made that recommendation to the minister and she has accepted it. Now that the minister has established this moratorium on exploration, we encourage all Albertans to continue to participate with our committee in the widespread public engagement over the coming months as we develop our broader policy recommendations.” Ron Wallace, chair, Coal Policy Committee

Preliminary analysis of the survey results indicates:

– The majority of respondents feel the management of the province’s coal resources affect them.
– “Environmental impacts of coal development” and “if and where coal development takes place” were ranked by respondents as the most important issues when discussing Alberta’s coal policy.
– The majority of respondents feel there are areas of the province that are not appropriate for coal development, while almost one-third of respondents say there are areas of the province where development could be appropriate.
– Albertans would like to participate in the engagement process through additional online surveys and virtual meetings.
– Respondents want to learn more about the approval processes for exploration and development, as well the coal categories, which dictate where and how coal leasing, exploration and development can occur.
– The majority of respondents expressed concerns about coal exploration.

The Coal Policy Committee is continuing to review the survey results. The results will help inform the next steps in the public engagement process, with more information available in the near future.

SOURCE:

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