Coal mining policy reinstated for Alberta's Rocky Mountains - Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

Coal mining policy reinstated for Alberta’s Rocky Mountains

Fishing Alberta's Rivers
Fishing Alberta's Rivers. Photo: C. Simmons

Albertans make it clear they want consultation and more protections for our precious headwaters and mountains

Earlier today, Alberta’s Energy Minister reinstated the 1976 coal development policy

This announcement addresses May 2020’s sudden decision to rescind it, a move widely criticized by people across the province. 

Today’s action is thanks to you and people like you who spoke out. The government responded to the massive outcry by tens of thousands of Albertans who wrote letters, made phone calls, signed petitions, and loudly and clearly demanded for reinstatement of the coal policy.  

Recreationists, hunters, anglers, Indigenous governments, mayors, musicians, business owners and others ranging the political spectrum were heard. Thank you.   

People in the province want to be involved in major decisions such as this. They have made it clear they want more protections for our precious headwaters and mountains — not fewer.  

The announcement includes a commitment to consult with Albertans before making any changes to the coal policy.  

From today’s announcement

“This includes reinstating the four coal categories, which dictated where and how coal leasing, exploration and development could occur. 

“Further, the Minister of Energy has issued a directive to the Alberta Energy Regulator so that: 

  • No mountaintop removal will be permitted and all of the restrictions under the 1976 coal categories are to apply, including all restrictions on surface mining in Category 2 lands.  
  • All future coal exploration approvals on Category 2 lands will be prohibited pending widespread consultations on a new coal policy.”

We are cautiously optimistic and pleased the government has listened, and we will keep you in the loop on the consultation process. In the meantime, we are still asking the government to pause six coal projects currently being explored on Category 2 lands until consultation is complete.  

The headwaters and wildlife habitat in these places is at risk from coal exploration activities — which include road building and the clearing of land — if not the mines themselves, and must be assessed for potential impacts. 

Along with many other partner organizations, since the announcement Y2Y has asked for full and meaningful consultation with Albertans. Not just on the coal policy but on parks and other environmental and land-use decisions affecting our cherished waters, wilderness and wildlife.  

The potential of expanded coal mine development in Alberta’s Eastern Slopes has been especially concerning to Y2Y as a significant proportion the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region in Alberta was put at risk by the removal of the coal categories.

These lands are the headwaters of our rivers, habitat for iconic wildlife species, and provide world-class recreation opportunities for millions of people. 

Looking ahead, we will continue to hold the government accountable for comprehensive consultation and land-use planning and for no surface mining exploration or development in our headwaters. Albertans want to be consulted on environmental issues. 

In fact, a poll released today by ThinkHQ Public Affairs shows the majority of Albertans — 69 percent — oppose expanded development of formerly protected areas of the province.