July 25th, 2024

Coal policy served a purpose


By Letter to the Editor on January 30, 2021.

Editor:
There is a new culture in our Alberta government. It’s one of secret decision-making, rather than transparency and consultation. It has caused a furor over coal exploration and mining in the mountains and foothills of southwestern Alberta. Most of us knew about the Grassy Mountain mine, a sacrifice of our Crowsnest River headwaters to a shaky venture by offshore speculators. Now we discover Alberta has granted additional coal leases for coal exploration throughout our Oldman River headwaters. The resulting backlash is not just from the ‘environmental left’, as our premier calls any citizen brave enough to speak up for nature conservation, but from a broad spectrum of Albertans, including the ‘conservative right.’ Ranchers, hunters, motorized recreationists, first nations, and tourism operators are all expressing anger at how they have been duped and betrayed by their own government. They are realizing their pristine headwaters have been sold, causing smothering of trout spawning grounds with silt, selenium poisoning, and displacement of wildlife.
The dishonest trickery is in our government’s pretense that their revoking of the 1976 Coal Policy was done because it was obsolete. This rescinding was done at closing time the last day before Easter Weekend in the peak of the spring wave of Covid. Most of us didn’t notice, nor did we understand the significance of it. Did our leaders explain what it meant? No.
The Coal Policy was not a perfect document, but it’s existence was, in lieu of anything better, serving a purpose. It could have been dusted off and revised following consultation, but did our government initiate such a process? No. Once the decision was made to rescind it, did our government turn to its other policies and strategies, such as its Integrated Resource Plans that were developed by experts and multiple stakeholders in the 1980s and 1990s? No! Did the government check its own Eastern Slopes Policy, that identifies protection of alpine areas and critical wildlife areas, and emphasizes headwater protection? No! Did the government refer to its own Water for Life Strategy (2003) and the resulting Watershed Management Plans that arose from it? No!
All these government policies and strategies provide guidance on land use and recommend against poorly regulated coal exploration and development in the southwestern Rockies and their Eastern Slope foothills. They were prepared after thousands of hours of consultation between resource professionals and public citizens who volunteered their time. All have been ignored while our government uses closed-door decision-making sessions to make their non-consulted decisions to sell off coal leases at bargain basement prices. Now there are over a thousand coal exploration sites being drilled, requiring hundreds of kilometres of new roads. And the latest insult is the announcement by the Energy Minister revoking a tiny proportion, less than 1%, of these coal leases, and portraying this deflective sidestep as a concession to try to quell the public backlash.
Was the old Coal Policy up to date and as specific as it needed to be? No. Did your Alberta Government initiate a consultation process to update it? No. What has the Government replaced it with, from their potpourri of policy and product choices? Nothing. Was this the way of Lougheed, Getty, Klein, Stelmach, or Notley? No! This is a sad demonstration of a new culture for an Alberta Government.

Richard Quinlan
retired wildlife biologist

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John P Nightingale

Well stated!

Southern Albertan

This Kenney UCP government, must, be told, in no uncertain terms, that this open-pit coal mining fiasco, alone, will not, generate votes their way.
Again, some of us in the Livingstone-Macleod riding, knowing, that a majority Kenney UCP government, would not be a good thing, voted for the NDP candidate, Cam Gardner, a rancher in this riding who is well versed on the area. He has also served as Reeve and Councillor for the Municipal District of Ranchland. But what is it appearing that we have? A UCP MLA who is possibly confident that these shady Australian open-pit mining companies can be perfect in every way, including preventing selenium from leaching into the Oldman River watershed and headwaters.
Everybody, this your drinking water! The millions of Albertans who depend on this water being protected and preserved need to rise up and stop this travesty from happening.

buckwheat

You are all crying Wolf. Objections could have been started as far back as 2013. The public hearings were for the full month of November
https://calgaryherald.com/business/local-business/joint-review-panel-hearing-into-proposed-800-million-crowsnest-pass-coal-mine-begins

Fedup Conservative

So what are you saying. Lougheed wasn’t smart enough to realize how dangerous it was and made certain he stopped it from ever happening? Have you noticed how these phony conservatives by destroying Lougheed’s oil royalties has cost Albertans $575 billion in lost revenues, $150 billion lost in tax breaks, and $260 billion in an orphan well mess? Of course those of us from the world of finance know that slashing taxes to benefit the rich does not create jobs, it only creates richer CEOs. That’s been a well known fact for 50 years in our world.
Believing the lies Kenney feeds you seems to be what you do best and no one seems to be willing to support you anymore, have you noticed?
Now we learn this Reform Party fool elected in Ottawa is already promising to slash billions off our Public Health Care system and force Canadians into a privatized system like Kenney has been trying to do, while they give away all our wealth.
How much can you afford to pay to help clean up this orphan well mess you helped create by blindly supporting your phony conservative hero Ralph Klein, while his father Phil and daughter Angie tried to help us vote him out and how much a month do you want to pay for these Reformers health care system? It’s costing my American relatives $800. per month, which is only $19,200. per year for a senior couple. Can’t wait to pay it I bet.

McKnight

Funny how it’s mentioned in that article that Teck got fined for the primary reason everyone should oppose coal mine expansion: Selenium discharge.
You do know that there’s still high Selenium in the water table from coal mining that happened over 125 years ago right?

Fedup Conservative

I think lawyers have been right for years. We should have started suing these fools that allowed these phony conservatives to create this “Horrific Mess” for us as Peter Lougheed called it. Instead of letting them hurl their sarcastic comments at us without any concrete evidence to support their stupid comments. Nothing and I mean nothing has benefited the average Albertan like Lougheed’s policies were doing. Keeping these Reformers in office and then re-electing them again under Kenney was a really stupid idea. Look at what Norway and Alaska has accomplished with proper management of their wealth?
Notely was on the right track by gradually increasing taxes and oil royalties back up to the Lougheed levels we would have gotten out of this. We owed to our children to do it. Too bad Albertans weren’t smart enough to realize that there was no way she could fix in only four years what they created in twenty five.

McKnight

Couldn’t agree more.
Peter Lougheed’s graveyard RPM’s have been steadily increasing since that buffoon Ralph Klein got elected…
And now Alberta has the propaganda-slinging UCP to deal with. -Funny how lies instead of real solid policy have become the norm.
Also funny how the UCP spends more time WASTING our money on gambles and BS (Keystone and the “Anti Alberta Energy Campaigns”).
The latest funny thing? That the Australian Coal Mining Companies knew that the Coal Policy was going to be rescinded before Albertans (Or Canadians in general) did:
“But a presentation prepared some time in 2019 by Capital Investment Partners, a firm that owns four private coal companies with extensive leases in the central Rockies, told investors: “Alberta government [is] in the process of changing the coal policy to allow more open-pit mining.”
https://thetyee.ca/News/2021/01/29/Months-Before-Albertans-Told-Coal-Policy-Australian-Miners-Knew/
And meanwhile: They steal from the public further by degrading the Education and Health Care sectors.
The United States have already shown us how bloody stupid that line of political ideology is.
And yet here we are:
Having to deal with a bunch of neo-con idealogues who don’t give a flying cowpuck about their constituents.
Only about lining their pockets (So they can fly off during a Pandemic), and the pockets of their overlords.

Fedup Conservative

So what are you saying. Let them go ahead and pollute and force them to build a plant to clean it up? You mean how the Klein , Stelmach and Redford governments made certain the orphan wells were cleaned up?
How much are you going to pay to clean them up when your Reformer friends didn’t do it?