Posted on Apr 22, 2021
UCP PROMISED TO HELP COAL MINING COMPANIES, DID NOT CONSIDER IMPACT ON OTHER INDUSTRIES
EDMONTON - Jason Kenney’s UCP government offered help to foreign coal mining companies, but did not conduct a broader economic impact assessment of expanding coal mining in the Eastern Slopes before rescinding the 1976 Lougheed Coal Policy, officials admitted this week.
At a meeting of the Public Account Committee Tuesday with the Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, officials confirmed that then-Minister Tanya Fir met with Australian coal company Valory Resources and offered in writing “anything I can 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 Roughly six months later, the 1976 Coal Policy was quietly rescinded on the Friday of the May long weekend.
“Jason Kenney and his ministers were working overtime to benefit the coal industry at the expense of Albertans,” said Marlin Schmidt, Environment and Parks critic and member of the Committee. “No attention was paid to the impacts on tourism, agriculture, or the clean water supply of Alberta communities.”
Under questioning by the Official Opposition at the Committee, ministry officials confirmed that “there was no analysis around the implications of the coal policy on the 10-year tourism strategy,” a plan that was being developed by the Minister for Jobs, Economy and Innovation.
Despite its central role in economic development policy work, and providing other ministries with a range of views from stakeholders across industries, Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Innovation officials also confirmed that they “did not take on any analysis” with respect developing the coal industry, and “confirmed [that] no policy advice [was provided] on the coal policy”.
“The interests of coal lobbyists are the highest priority for Jason Kenney and his energy minister,” said Schmidt. “Minister Sonya Savage chose not to do basic due diligence on a policy change that could destroy tens of thousands of existing jobs in tourism and agriculture.”
On Monday, the Kenney government closed its online survey on coal development, a survey which has been widely criticized for quizzing Albertans about coal regulations and failing to mention land-use or water protections.
The Opposition calls on Minister Savage to release the results of her online survey.
“Albertans do not want to see their mountains destroyed and their watersheds polluted by coal mining,” Schmidt said. “Savage should release her survey results immediately.”