EDMONTON, ALTA. – A private member’s bill before the Alberta legislature that would have blocked all coal mines in the province’s Rocky Mountains died on Tuesday after government members voted against it.
The bill, sponsored by NDP opposition leader Rachel Notley, was blocked by a legislative committee that decides on private members’ bills.
“It is clear today that the (United Conservative Party) still reserves the right to tear up our beautiful Alberta mountains and poison our water supply with coal mining,” Notley said in a statement. . “That’s what killing this bill has achieved.”
Six UCP members on the Private Members Bills Committee voted against passing the bill to second reading, despite voting in favor when it was introduced last spring.
Since then, Energy Minister Sonya Savage has blocked coal development in these landscapes with a ministerial order which she has promised not to withdraw.
The move came earlier this month, in response to an expert panel report that found widespread and outright opposition to surface coal mining in landscapes already heavily used for energy. , agriculture, forestry and recreation. These areas are also the source of much of the province’s drinking water.
Savage’s order prevents any further exploration activity, the sale of exploration leases or the issuance of exploration permits. It is not, however, law and can be revoked without public consultation or review by the legislature.
She said the ordinance will remain in place until environmental protections can be written into land use plans for affected areas.
Notley said the order can be withdrawn at any time at the minister’s discretion. She said that the UCP’s refusal to legislate to protect the Rockies suggests they may be considering opening it up.
“This government could resume mining with the stroke of a pen, or even cancel the order without notice or consultation,” she said. “(Premier) Jason Kenney is counting on Albertans to trust him blindly, without any transparency or oversight.”
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