A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., on June 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

A section of the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies is seen west of Cochrane, Alta., on June 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Wide-ranging analysis finds negative overall impacts from coal mining in Rockies

Mine would displace ranching and tourism, damage water and wildlife

CALGARY — An analysis from the University of Calgary concludes that a coal mine on protected land on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains wouldn’t be an overall benefit to Alberta.

A paper from the university’s School of Public Policy says the overall economic, social and environmental impacts of such a development would be negative.

Jennifer Winter, who teaches economics, says she and her colleagues went beyond the usual weighing of wages paid and taxes remitted.

She says her group’s paper, released this morning, tries to bring non-monetary factors into cost-benefit assessments usually limited to dollars and cents.

Winter says the latest information on coal markets suggests such a mine would be marginally profitable and that its job and tax benefits would be small in relation to Alberta’s economy.

Meanwhile, a mine would displace ranching and tourism, damage water and wildlife, and create a risk that taxpayers would end up paying for cleanup.

The paper doesn’t refer to any particular coal project, but draws heavily on information presented at the hearings into the Grassy Mountain proposal, which was recently turned down after hearings by provincial and federal regulators.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2021.

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