May 6th, 2021

What happened to the balance?

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on November 7, 2020.

change in alberta’s coal policy goes against true environmental balance

Braum Barber



Imagine a teeter-totter balanced by children, each able to launch their end in turn. This might represent a balance between a healthy environment and human economy. When you think of “balance,” you might think of the scales of justice: equity and fairness. Or you might consider “balance” as actions working in harmony, or the notion of sustainability – that a quality of life may be sustained indefinitely into the future.

Now consider the policy statement approved by 76.3 per cent of those voting at the recent AGM of the UCP: The United Conservative Party “is committed to balancing environmental objectives with the need for economy growth, development and use of private land, and public enjoyment of public land.” The rationale stated in the policy recommendation was that “environmental laws, regulations and policies, including the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Water Act and the Public Lands Act, and their applications have placed an undue burden on agriculture, land development, industry and rural residents.” Undue burden? These are the acts that protect the health and safety of our water, our air, our land and biodiversity in the province.

Existing environmental laws, regulations and policies were developed over the past 50 years in Alberta with extensive consultation processes with scientists, stakeholders and the public. These laws and regulations were enacted to protect human health, economic interests and the long-term stability, integrity and beauty of the natural environment that sustains us. These laws and regulations were designed to achieve balance.

One must ask how, then, we have found ourselves with environmental laws and regulations that are placing an “undue burden” on the economy. What is clear is that we are no longer talking about “balance.”

Only 1.25 per cent of Alberta’s Grasslands Natural Region is protected under legislation. Grasslands contain 75 per cent if the species-at-risk in the province. Within this grassland region, 64 per cent of natural wetlands have been lost. We continue to put more pressure on our rivers to provide for growing urban populations, for agricultural needs like irrigation and intensive livestock operations, and to dilute our pollution to levels considered safe to downstream users. Now, we have a government that has unilaterally changed the Coal Policy allowing mountain-top removal techniques of open-pit coal mining in our headwaters, risking long-term impacts on land-use and the contamination of our water. We have a government that is backtracking on land and wildlife preservation through our parks, as well as current regional management plans for monitoring and regulating cumulative effects of human impact.

If we were really talking about “balance” we would be talking about preservation and restoration, not the further conversion of natural places to human industry. If we were really talking about “balance” we would not have a UCP policy that looks like a petulant little boy sitting alone on the ground at the end of a teeter-totter.

Braum Barber is the president of the Southern Alberta Group for the Environment

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This government is an anachronism: Kenney and his puppet-master, Harper, are stuck in the worldview of the 80s. Surely a government today would comprehend the importance if our natural areas and the regulations that protect them (and us).

This government has become a problem for our future – environmentally, economically, and socially.

Good letter.

pursuit diver

I wonder if anyone has paid any attention to the fact that while Alberta has been crucified for it’s ‘tar-sands’ that BC, has been supplying China, whose greenhouse emissions are over 30% of the worlds GHG’s, with most of it’s coal that it pollutes the environment with?
Most of that coal comes from the south east corner of BC, with other parts up by Chetwyn. You never saw any environmentalists or protests !!!
Why? Could it be the foreign billionaire funded enviromental protest groups donors have no business interests that would benefit?
Shutting down pipelines benefits Warren Buffet in two ways. First it gives Bershire-Hathaway’s rail road more crude to transport and of course Warren Buffet is a trustee and major donor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).
BMGF was the biggest shareholder of CN Rail a few years ago, and once known, another investerment group, Vanguard increased shares in both CP Rail and CN Rail . . . Warren Buffet has major investments in Vanguard as well as Bill Gates.
BMGF also operates the New Ventures groups that has seen it’s funds flow to protesters who protested against piplelines and major oil/gas projects.
Meanwhile, CN Rail and CP Rail haul record levels of crude!
Our carbon tax programs have been reduced due to lower revenues, that would normally be put into Green Energy projects and R&D, while US billionaires make major investments in green energy in Canada.
Berkshire Hathaway owns Alta-Link, Alberta’s biggest and primary electrical transmission complany, while they just invested over $200 million in a wind farm in the very southeast corner of Alberta close to the US border.
It appears that the US billionaires want to control the green energy in Canada just like the controlled the petroleum industry, while mounting a military psy-ops war of protests, disinformation and misinformation to shut down our oil and gas industry, while ignoring the BC coal industry . . . Canada only emits 1.6% of the world’s GHG’s while China over 30%.
China, the US and the EU combined emit almost 60% of the world’s greenhouse gases!
I am the only one who sees this as not being about the environment and all about greedy US billionaires wanting control??


Thanks for the stock tips, pursuit driver.

Just so you know, Canada has 0.5% of the world’s population. China is 17%. We send them coal to make our stuff. Who is responsible for that?

But we digress.