Are You Being Heard in the Coal Consultations?
On February 8, 2021, Alberta’s Minister of Energy Sonya Savage reinstated the 1976 Coal Policy after the overwhelmingly negative response to the threat posed by coal mining to the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. “Albertans have spoken loud and clear and we have heard them,” Minister Savage said at a press conference on February 8. “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.”However, as the consultations unfold, there is doubt as to whether that is really the case. The initial survey released and the terms of reference for the independent Coal Policy Committee do not include or address key concerns regarding impacts on water and land use. This directly contradicts the government’s commitment to: “protecting the majestic Eastern Slopes and the surrounding natural environment.” (Minister Sonya Savage Feb 8, 2021). This is a problem because Alberta communities are concerned about their drinking water and water supply is critical to life. As the government aims to develop a modern Coal Policy, we recommend a comprehensive policy that addresses these concerns at the forefront of consultations – not ignored or treated as an afterthought.On April 7, 2021, Bill 214 “Eastern Slopes Protection Act” was introduced in the provincial legislature. Bill 214 would ban coal mining in Category 2 lands to protect sensitive habitat and protect headwaters. It also would require regional land use plans under the Alberta Land Stewardship Act for coal activity in Category 3 and 4 lands. The bill would protect key areas from coal mining, and ideally create a process for determining stewardship of remaining Eastern Slope areas. Call to Action 1. Call your MLA and tell them you support the Bill 214 “Eastern Slopes Protection Act” and ask for their support to get the Bill passedExpress your concerns about coal mining in the Eastern Slopes and the consultation process and how you’d like to see environmental concerns at the forefront of the consultations.Tell them you support increased environmental protection for water, habitat, fish and wildlife, and landscape conservation of the Rocky MountainsLet them know you’d like to see consultations uphold the UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples with concerned Indigenous groups. Find your MLA here 2. The consultations on Alberta’s Coal Policy are severely flawed, and the government needs to hear this from you! Please complete the initial consultation survey by April 19th. Tell them you want environmental concerns, including impacts on water, wildlife and fish habitat, selenium pollution, and threats to communities to be prioritised by the Coal Policy Committee. Complete the Coal Policy Survey 3. If you have not already done so, sign our action alert calling for provincial and federal leadership to protect the Eastern Slopes and uphold Indigenous rights to meet Canada’s obligations for consultation. Sign a letter today