May 30th, 2024

Strip mining will affect all communities here


By Lethbridge Herald on January 29, 2021.

Shannon Phillips
MLA – West Lethbridge
As we turned the corner on 2020, many of us looked towards 2021 with hope. There was hope that the wide distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine would lead to a return to normal life – a time when we could once again gather with friends and hug our grandkids. It also meant we could reopen our economy and companies could plan to rehire and invest.
Despite growing hope that 2021 will be better than last year, it’s clear that the many challenges of 2020 are still with us. Alberta’s economy is the worst-performing in Canada and we have double-digit unemployment. Alberta’s recovery depends on an organized and responsible vaccine distribution and a well-functioning health care system.
The early days of 2021 were not a good look for the UCP government. More than 10 per cent of their MLAs left Canada for vacations in Hawaii, Vegas and Mexico.
While the rest of us lost jobs and made sacrifices, UCP MLAs assured us they were very stressed out and needed sunny skies and sand between their toes. This was unbecoming, entitled and arrogant. Albertans had lost jobs. Many felt — and still feel — profound loneliness and isolation.
We’ve all done our part — everyone, it seems, except the UCP, who think of themselves separate and apart from the rest of us.
Here in Southern Alberta, we’ve struggled to be heard by the UCP. Jason Kenney’s government took away our local, integrated control of emergency services. If you need an ambulance, that call will go through Calgary or Edmonton.
This change will cost us municipal taxpayers more, as the province is sticking us with the bill for switching systems.
These plans were rejected by the previous PC government, by the old Wild Rose Opposition, by the NDP when we were in government, and by all of the mayors, city councils and fire departments that were affected. Every single organization affected by the decision was against it.
That didn’t matter to the UCP. They went ahead and made the change anyway. Meanwhile, Southern Alberta UCP MLAs were silent.
And then there’s the UCP decision to allow stripmining of our mountains and foothills. Southern Albertans from all walks of life understand stripmining the mountains for coal threatens our region, our jobs, and our water.  That’s why Peter Lougheed outlawed it in 1976, and why it is wrong that the UCP reversed that Lougheed decision.
Anyone who has lived in Southern Alberta for any amount of time knows how vital water is to our communities. The differences we see driving past irrigated and non-irrigated fields after a stretch of hot, dry weather in the summer tell us all we need to know about water in Southern Alberta: our economy, our jobs, and our very way of life in this dry area of the great plains depends on being able to move water where we need it to be.
There are impacts to both quality of water and the quantity of water in Southern Alberta if the UCP plan to stripmine the mountains and foothills goes forward.
First, there is substantial evidence that strip mining our mountains and foothills has downstream effects on all communities in Southern Alberta.  Similar mines in B.C. show toxic levels of selenium and sulphate have gathered in the water, deforming fish and forcing those municipalities to get their drinking water elsewhere.
At a minimum, that will cost us all in increased property taxes, as our water facilities are run by our cities and towns and funded from our property taxes.
Second, the UCP wants to rewrite the rules around water use for drought-prone Southern Alberta.
Right now, there are specific limits on how much water can be drawn from the Oldman River for irrigation, food processing, ranching, recreation or drinking water. Under the new rules the UCP want, Australia coal mining companies can access billions of litres of water for mountaintop stripmines — water that Alberta’s farmers, ranchers, food processing companies, municipalities and First Nations have never been able to access.
Lastly, Southern Alberta depends on ready and reliable access to water for the irrigation of high value crops. Without our irrigation system, and access to downstream water for processing, Lethbridge’s world-class value-added agriculture industry will be hamstrung, and the jobs that go along with food and beverage manufacturing are uncertain. Stripmining and polluting our headwaters puts our current jobs in agriculture at risk – let alone our ability to attract new ones.
Last night I held an online Town Hall with hundreds of concerned Albertans. The call to action was clear: the UCP needs to restore Peter Lougheed’s 1976 Coal Policy and stop any backroom, special deal for coal mining companies to steal billions of litres of water from the Oldman River— water that belongs to all of us.
As always, if you require the services of our constituency office at all, please contact us at 403-329-4644 or email lethbridge.west@assembly.ab.ca.

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Southern Albertan

That the Kenney UCP is considering that amount of water for open-pit coal mining is outrageous. This should be a huge deal breaker for the millions of us who source this water let alone the untrustworthy selenium claims by the Australian companies and this government.
Has the Lethbridge Northern Irrigation District and all of their affected landowners/irrigators raised a huge protest against this? Or wait until the howls start from lack of water let alone toxic water negative effects for humans, fish, cattle, etc….? “Blue Gold: World Water Wars” documentary based on the book, “Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Corporate theft of the World’s Water,” comes to mind.

buckwheat

But no environment issues running a water pipeline from Crowley to Castle was there.

Southern Albertan

This:
“What Is With The Development In The Castle Park?”
http://www.oldmanwatershed.ca…….
It is mentioned here that “bringing potable water from the Cowley Water Treatment Plant would reduce the resort’s pressure on local sources of surface and ground waters.”
Can the Cowley Water Treatment Plant filter out selenium? And, would billions of liters of water being going to Castle? Is the Castle resort, even with its foibles, less objectional than an open-pit coal mine? I think I would hold my nose and opt for the resort.

buckwheat

More like hold your nose for going thru Beauvais Lake Provincial Park. Don’t recall Phillips doing public consultation for the friends of Castle to get their water. No damage here to the environment on an NDP friendly project. The Castle move was a behind the scenes add on to the Crowley project. Info. From an operator on the the Crowley project.

Southern Albertan

Still, the prospect of open-pit coal mining in Alberta is an abhorrent nightmare, and another indication of the Kenney UCP train wreck.

buckwheat

Seems you have never visited a strip mine operation. Take a day and travel to Sheerness. They have been strip mining for years. Reclamation is remarkable. Oh yeh and you won’t see soot coming from the stack. Take a day and broaden your point of view.

Southern Albertan

Can it be imagined restoring a blown off mountain top back to its original status, let alone restoring headwaters and watersheds back to their original non-poisoned status? This so-called restoration is cruel, cold comfort for what is proposed for the eastern slopes of our Rocky Mountains and Foothills, and certainly not, comparable. The coal from Sheerness is not going to last for the future anyway since power plants are switching to natural gas or other energies.

buckwheat

Yes it can be. Go to Geenhills, Fording, Line Creek, see for yourself. While your at it read this. Go beyond two dimensions of social media and view the third and fourth.
https://wernerantweiler.ca/blog.php?item=2015-02-07

Southern Albertan

No matter what is said, high, or low, a blown off mountain top cannot be reclaimed, ever…..

Jack Grant

That’s almost comical Shannon Phillips and her party were in power from 2015-2019. The Grassy Mountain project started in 2013 I can’t remember the NDP talking a public position opposing the project through those four years. Or raising concerns about water issues.
Go and read the articles about water testing data that was not released by the province. Also comical listening to the NDP environmental critic slam the UCP and then finding out that the NDP did not release the information during their term in office.
Then it comes out that the government reduced environmental testing funding over the last 10 years both UCP and the NDP.
We all know the NDP have always opposed pipelines and the oil and gas industry (read the manifesto). Until Rachael got social license by agreeing to the carbon tax, remember “pack your lunch boxes and tools your going to work”.
I would love to hear how Ms Phillips feels about oil,gas and pipelines today?.
How about her position on cattle and the impacts they have on our water tables?
The forestry industry, I know how much her group fought to shut down logging in the castle, what about the rest of Alberta?
I can only imagine the excitement in NDP headquarters when the keystone was shut down.
Shannon do you support the development of natural resources any where in Alberta?