June 14th, 2024

NDP calls for release of coal policy report

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on January 28, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Alberta NDP Environment critic Marlin Schmidt and Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips are calling for Energy Minister Sonya Savage to release the Coal Policy Committee’s final reports.
“There is simply no excuse for any further delay… Minister Savage has had this report for four weeks, and she must have read it by now. It’s not War and Peace. It’s not Lord of the Rings. It’s a coal report and Albertans deserve to read it for themselves,” said Schmidt during a virtual press conference on Thursday.
In 2020, the UCP repealed the 1976 Lougheed Coal Policy and opened up areas of the Eastern Slopes for open-pit coal mining before public blowback forced the government to pause their changes pending the findings of the Coal Policy Committee.
After three extensions, Energy Minister Sonya Savage acknowledged receipt of the committee’s final report on Dec. 22, 2021.
Schmidt said that a recent study by the University of Calgary School of Public policy revealed the environmental risks and liabilities far outweigh the economic benefits, and more than 90 per cent of Albertans surveyed last year said they do not support expanding mines in sensitive areas of the mountains.
He also mentioned that Premier Jason Kenney told a prominent municipal stakeholder behind closed doors that his government fully supports coal companies and has little interest in public feedback on the matter or recommendations from the Coal Policy Committee.
This was later shared in a press release that partially read, “In an update to High River Town Council on Monday, Mayor Craig Snodgrass described a lengthy meeting with Kenney and Savage on the issue as follows: ‘He was very honest with me as to where he stood on that as he says that he is full-on an unapologetic supporter of the coal mining industry. So, you know, that’s great, but that’s still where our Premier is. And my biggest concern is that he definitely, you know, holds limited interest in the public’s-the 27,000 people that responded to the government’s public survey, as well as the work that the Coal Policy Committee has been doing. That’s how that’s influenced his decision making. But there’s no question that he’s still 100 per cent in with supporting the coal mining companies’.”      
Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips, during the virtual press conference, responded to this by saying that the reports contain recommendations to the government as well as summary feedback from more than 20,000 Albertans who deserve to have their voices heard.
“My constituents have been fighting to protect our land, our water, and all the opportunities that come from having the majestic and beautiful mountains that we have in Alberta,” said Phillips.
She said the Albertans in her riding feel like they are being lied to when the government says they are listening.
“You can’t claim to be listening… and then bury the report that proves it. Albertans deserve to know they are being heard,” said Phillips.
Phillips said small business, ranches, Indigenous communities, economic development, and diversification and every aspect of our daily lives depends on access to fresh water in southern Alberta that is supplied by these head waters, everything depends on protecting our water supply.
“This isn’t just about the UCP failure to diversify Alberta’s economy and position us for 21st century challenges, this is about putting our existing jobs at risk,” said Phillips.

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