EDMONTON — An Opposition bill that would preserve Alberta’s Rocky Mountains from open-pit coal mines could be debated in the legislature after a government-dominated committee on Tuesday gave unanimous consent for it to move forward.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley, the bill’s sponsor,immediately challenged government members to approve a motion to debate the bill next Monday instead of letting it die on the order paper.
“Are they just going through the motions or are they really prepared to do what it takes and stand up for and represent the views of their constituents?” Notley asked after a meeting of the committee that screens private members’ bills and decides which of them goes ahead.
Earlier in theday, the committee voted unanimously to send Notley’s proposedEastern Slopes Protection Act to the legislature for further debate. All six United Conservative members and four New Democrats supported the recommendation.
Committee clerk Warren Huffman confirmed it’s the first Opposition-sponsored private member’s bill the committee hasn’t rejected since the UCP came to power in 2019.
The bill calls for the cancellation of leases issued after the government scrapped a policy last May that once protected a vast swath of summits and foothills down the western spine of the province.
If passed, the bill would also stop the province’s energy regulator from issuing development permits. Open-pit mines would be permanently prohibited in the most environmentally sensitive areas and mines elsewhere would not receive the go-ahead until a land-use plan for the region was developed.
The government has already sold coal exploration leases for vast tracts of the area.