Posted on Feb 12, 2021
REINSTATING COAL POLICY NOT ENOUGH, UCP MUST PAUSE COAL EXPLORATION, CANCEL MAY 2020 LEASES
EDMONTON – Jason Kenney and the UCP government must pause all coal exploration and lease activity on Category 2 lands on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and cancel all leases granted after the government rescinded the 1976 Lougheed Coal Policy, says the Alberta NDP Caucus.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society estimates there are active leases or lease applications covering as many as 420,000 hectares of Category 2 lands, roughly three times the size of the additional boreal forest that the UCP announced would be protected in northeast Alberta.
“Jason Kenney’s claim that his environmental record is somehow ‘historic’ is comical and insults the tens of thousands of Albertans who fought for months to stop the UCP from allowing foreign companies to strip-mine the Rockies with no public consultation,” said NDP Environment and Parks Critic Marlin Schmidt.
Energy Minister Sonya Savage announced she was reinstating the policy, resulting in what many consider to be a “bait and switch” meant to fool Albertans.
By not cancelling these leases, the UCP are keeping the doors open to exploration which could include carving out hundreds of kilometres of roads and mountain drilling in some of the most sensitive and pristine lands in the province without prior environmental assessment.
“Albertans have been clear. They don’t want any coal-related activity in sensitive parts of the eastern slopes. Until this government actually conducts meaningful consultation, and Albertans have had their say, all coal leases, applications, sampling and exploration for minerals ought to be put on hold.”
When asked, Minister Savage could not say when the consultations would begin, only that they would be aimed at the predetermined outcome of strip-mining more coal from Alberta’s fragile eastern slopes.
“As long as Jason Kenney is in charge, our mountains and water are at risk. No one can take them at their word because this UCP government has lost all trust with Albertans,” said Schmidt. “If the UCP wants to show they are serious about listening to the concerns of the public, they should cancel the leases they sold without consultation and put a pause on all other activities until Albertans voices are heard.”
As of today, Jason Kenney has still not rescinded his comments calling the 1976 Lougheed Coal Policy a “dead letter” or his comments insisting that nothing had changed in terms of the risk posed to the headwaters and mountains of the eastern slopes, despite clear evidence to the contrary.