On Jan. 19 Alberta’s Ministry of Energy announced a temporary pause on future coal lease sales in former Category 2 lands, and that 11 coal leases sold in December 2020 will be cancelled.
Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) welcomes this news and are pleased the government is listening to Albertans who want to be included in land-use decisions that affect our cherished waters, wilderness and wildlife. However, this temporary pause and cancellation represents a small portion of the bigger picture — the majority of the leases have been left intact.
Since the government rescinded the 1976 coal policy without consultation in May 2020, more than 350 new coal agreements (including leases and lease applications) have been issued. This policy banned open-pit mining on Category 2 lands because of their ecological importance. More than 1,000 coal agreements remain in Alberta, the vast majority of which affect lands within the Yellowstone-to-Yukon region.
“This is a partial and interim measure from the Ministry of Energy. Albertans clearly want increased protection of the mountains and foothills, not destruction of them,” says Hilary Young, Y2Y senior Alberta program manager “The positive news that 11 coal leases in our precious headwaters were cancelled was dampened by the realization that more than 1,000 leases remain. Roads and clearing of land for exploration is well underway for many of them.”
Y2Y joins other organizations calling on the government to reinstate the 1976 coal policy until land-use planning is complete. Any changes should then only follow full and meaningful consultation with Albertans.