Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley speaks at a news conference in Edmonton on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. The NDP leader has tabled a private member's bill in the legislature that she says would protect the province's Rocky Mountains from new open-pit coal mines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Private member’s bill would protect mountains from coal mines: Alberta NDP Opposition

Private member’s bill would protect mountains from coal mines: Alberta NDP Opposition

EDMONTON — The Alberta Opposition is proposing legislation that it says would protect the province’s Rocky Mountains from new open-pit coal mines.

“What it’s about is giving voice to the hundreds of thousands of Albertans who have begged this government to stop their plans to coal mine in the Rocky Mountains,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley before introducing a private member’s bill Wednesday.

Notley said the bill proposes that coal exploration across the eastern slopes of the Rockies be blocked and road-building and drilling halted.

If passed, the bill would cancel leases issued after the United Conservative government scrapped a policy last May that once protected the land and would stop the province’s energy regulator from issuing development permits.

Open-pit mines would permanently be prohibited in the most environmentally sensitive areas and mines elsewhere would be prevented until a land-use plan for the region was developed.

“It is, in essence, a continuation of the … coal policy along with the natural extension of applying more science, more consultation in an evidence-based way,” Notley said.

Notley said mines already operating would not be affected under the NDP proposal. Those now before the regulator could proceed but would not get final approval unless they fit within the land-use plan.

Companies would be offered compensation in line with what they paid for the leases.

Controversy over coal mines began last May when the United Conservative government quietly revoked the 1976 policy. Public outrage grew, both over the threat to a beloved landscape and the potential for water contamination.

The government restored the policy in February. However, it didn’t cancel exploration leases sold in the interim and miners have been drilling and road-building in an area where much of Alberta’s drinking water originates.

The government has recently created an online public survey and struck a committee to consult the public — efforts Notley called a “delay tactic” that people have seen through.

“The consultations didn’t provide the depth and breadth of engagement that meaningful conversations with Albertans ought to provide. They were clearly designed to lead people to certain conclusions.”

Rules introduced by Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservatives dictate that private member’s bills go to a government-dominated committee that decides which ones will move forward to be debated. Notley said committee members should listen to their constituents.

“If the UCP caucus listens to their constituents, there’s really a possibility that this bill could be passed.”

Katie Morrison of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, which has been a vocal opponent of coal mining in the Rockies, welcomed the Opposition bill.

“It does address the short-term immediate need and then starts to talk about land-use planning,” she said. “We would like to see all parties addressing those two major things.

“Whether this bill passes or not, we will be looking to the current government for action to support those things.”

Brad Johnston of coal miner Cabin Ridge, which has leases on the controversial land, said the company supports the government’s consultation plans and urged Albertans to participate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2021.

— Follow Bob Weber on Twitter at @row1960

Bob Weber, The Canadian Press

coal mine

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lieutenant Commander Nicole Robichaud welcomes members of the Liberian Coast Guard aboard the HMCS Moncton for training with Royal Canadian Navy off the coast of Monrovia, Liberia, Africa. (Contributed photo by Corp. Ryan Moulton)
Red Deer-raised woman finds her sea legs as commander in the Royal Canadian Navy

Cdr. Nicole Robichaud started out as a local sea cadet

Rode
Feddema adds size and grit to RDC basketball Queens

Iris Feddema has known for several years what she wanted her future… Continue reading

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in the sky over north Red Deer on Wednesday. (Photo contributed by Eric Fischer)
Photo: Planes criss-cross over Red Deer

A local photographer captured the contrails of two planes that crossed in… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

A man injects hydromorphone at the Providence Health Care Crosstown Clinic in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday April 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
NDP lawmaker tables bill to decriminalize drug use as overdose deaths soar

NDP lawmaker tables bill to decriminalize drug use as overdose deaths soar

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Low-carbon bucks: Conservatives pitch consumer carbon pricing through savings account

Low-carbon bucks: Conservatives pitch consumer carbon pricing through savings account

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo responds to a question about vaccines during a weekly news conference, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 in Ottawa. Njoo says a faster vaccine ramp-up alone would likely not have thwarted the third wave of COVID-19 in many parts of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine point man aims to ensure more predictability for shipments

Ottawa’s COVID-19 vaccine point man aims to ensure more predictability for shipments

Evan Siddall is pictured in Ottawa on September 21, 2017. Former head of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. Evan Siddall has been named as the next chief executive for Alberta Investment Management Corp. He will succeed Kevin Uebelein. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AIMCo names former CMHC head Evan Siddall as next chief executive

AIMCo names former CMHC head Evan Siddall as next chief executive

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

Canadian home sales up 76% year-over-year, set new March record: CREA

WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims addresses the airline's annual meeting in Calgary, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

WestJet CEO Ed Sims finds Air Canada aid package ‘bittersweet’ as talks drag on

The TMX broadcast centre is shown in Toronto on May 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

S&P/TSX composite, Dow Jones and S&P 500 set record highs as mood rises on economy

A man wearing a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 checks his phone as the sun sets in English Bay in Vancouver on April 5, 2021. Canada's existing mobile phone services and consumer groups will get a landmark ruling from the CRTC this afternoon. The regulatory ruling could shift some of the market power held by Rogers, Bell and Telus, which collectively have more than 90 per cent of the country's subscribers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

CRTC to allow smaller wireless players better access to national networks

Most Read