Posted on May 18, 2021


EDMONTON - Albertans are overwhelmingly opposed to coal mining in the eastern slopes, according to survey results released by the UCP government.

The UCP released a survey on Albertans’ opinions regarding coal mining in the Rocky Mountains after the government faced significant backlash for rescinding the 1976 coal policy that protected the area from coal development. 

“These results may have come as a surprise to the UCP, but they certainly don’t surprise us,” said NDP Environment Critic Marlin Schmidt. “We’ve heard from thousands of Albertans who are concerned about the long-lasting environmental impacts this will have and don’t want coal mining in our Rocky Mountains.”

In April, Energy Minister Sonya Savage ended coal exploration in Category 2 lands in the eastern slopes after conducting a survey as part of the UCP government’s plan to develop a new coal policy after rescinding the previous policy introduced by former premier Peter Lougheed. 

While the survey results were not released at the time of the UCP’s walk back on coal exploration, they were quietly released by the government on Monday evening. 

According to the survey, almost 25,000 Albertans responded to the survey with 70 per cent feeling that coal development has a major effect on them. 

In particular, respondents were concerned about the impacts on water, air, environment, health, wildlife and their ability to enjoy outdoor activities. They also expressed concern about liability for clean-up and contamination, and the impact on future generations.

Ninety per cent believe that areas such as the Rockies and foothills, wildlife corridors, areas near watersheds or major bodies of water, recreational areas, ecologically sensitive areas, areas in close proximity to residential areas and farms, and lands in Categories 1, 2 and 3 are not appropriate for coal exploration and development.

The UCP have created a committee tasked with consulting on a new coal policy that could allow for coal mining in previously protected areas. However, NDP Leader Rachel Notley has also introduced the Eastern Slopes Protection Act that will prevent mining in the eastern slopes through legislation. 

“Despite overwhelming opposition from Albertans, the UCP seem hell-bent on opening up our mountains for coal mining. If they weren’t, they would simply stop this plan and pass our bill to ban mining in these sensitive areas,” said Schmidt.