Posted on May 21, 2021
NDP CALLS ON AUDITOR GENERAL TO INVESTIGATE CANCELLATION OF LOUGHEED COAL POLICY
EDMONTON - Alberta’s NDP is asking the Auditor General to open an investigation into the UCP government’s decision to quietly rescind Peter Lougheed’s 1976 Coal Policy on the eve of the 2020 May long weekend, and whether then-Minister Tanya Fir improperly interfered.
NDP Environment and Parks Critic Marlin Schmidt, in a letter to the Auditor General, requested the investigation following revelations at the Public Accounts Committee in April that the Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, which at the time was being run by Calgary-Peigan MLA Tanya Fir, did not conduct any economic impact analysis on the detrimental effects of strip mining the Rocky Mountains and on other industries like agriculture and tourism.
“It defies belief that the ministry responsible for providing a wide-angle lens into economic development in Alberta would conduct no analysis on developing coal at the expense of other industries,” said Schmidt. “Only the Auditor General can get to the bottom of this.”
In October 2019, then Minister Fir met with Australian coal company Valory Resources, and offered in writing “anything I can do to help in the completion of your mining project.” Roughly six months later, the 1976 Coal Policy was quietly rescinded on the Friday of the May long weekend.
“By failing to conduct any economic impact analysis on coal development, the ministry put the jobs in agriculture and tourism at risk,” said Schmidt. “This was either a tragic failure on the ministry’s part to do basic due diligence, or evidence of coal lobbyists getting to decide whether it’s worth it to strip mine the Rockies, pollute our headwaters, and kill jobs in other sectors.”
The request for a full investigation comes on the heels of the government’s own survey results on coal mining that found more than 90 per cent of Albertans do not support coal mining in areas such as the Rockies. Only 30 per cent of Albertans support coal mining at all.
“It’s time for this to end,” Schmidt said. Let’s protect our most beautiful natural areas and let’s get to the bottom of who failed to do diligence on this plan and hold them accountable.”
Schmidt encouraged the UCP Government to also write to the Auditor General to initiate the investigation.
“This Government has claimed it has nothing to hide on coal development,” Schmidt said. “If that’s the case, I’m calling on them to come out in support of a full investigation by the Office of the Auditor General.”