Fishing Alberta's Rivers

Important decision upholds intact mountains for people and nature

On Thursday June 17, the joint federal-provincial review panel for Alberta’s Grassy Mountain coal mine announced it had rejected the project, stating it is not in the public interest. 

In the decision, the panel specifically states that adverse environmental impacts, and physical and cultural impacts to Indigenous peoples, outweigh the questionable economic benefits proposed by the applicant. 

The panel’s decision is an important one that recognizes values of water, landscapes, First Nations territories and traditional practices, and the integrity of Alberta’s eastern slopes for present and future generations.  

Y2Y stood with many concerned citizens and groups who spoke up and stood up for the protection of our mountains and headwaters. First Nations communities, municipalities, landowners, ranchers, business owners and conservation organizations were among the tens of thousands of Albertans who spoke up against coal development in the eastern slopes. This unflagging effort was centered around concerns about irreversibly damage the Rockies, foothills and grasslands that provide water, recreation opportunities, and habitat for numerous species-at-risk. 

The proposed project area on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains of southern Alberta was near Crowsnest Pass, a well-loved landscape in the province. This region provides 90 per cent of the water to southern Alberta. Yet these critically important values have been increasingly impacted by forestry, industrial use and unregulated recreation motorized activity. Cumulative impacts from activities have threatened source waters, biodiversity and recreation values in the region.   

Grassy Mountain has been seen as a pivotal decision that could affect numerous other coal projects in the Eastern Slopes. This rejection is in addition to an earlier June announcement from the Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change that all proposed coal mines would be subject to a federal environmental assessment process due to concerns over selenium contamination of waterways. This is encouraging as Y2Y and others continue to engage with the provincial government on the development of a new Coal Policy. 

Today, we celebrate this positive announcement that upholds intact mountains for people and nature, and extend our deepest gratitude to all who have devoted countless hours and energy to speak up for the health of our land, water and wildlife in this critical region of the Y2Y landscape. 

Photo: Connie Simmons