Corb Lund may be best known for his singing and songwriting, but he’s also a resident of Alberta with strong rural roots. Early last year, the Alberta government quietly changed a coal mining policy that could potentially threaten the drinking and irrigation water for hundreds of thousands of Albertans, and Lund is not about to sit idly by and not bring attention to the issue.

In this LIVE! Q&A, Lund joins host Kara Oosterhuis to discuss the policy change, why it could be so destructive, and how those who speak up about it can most likely impact a return to the 1976 policy.

SUMMARY

  • What’s at issue? The coal policy in place that protected Rocky Mountain and Foothills area land was rescinded in June of last year.
  • The issue? It’s Category 2 land — one step below national parks — and open pit mining has consequences downstream.
  • It’s drinking water! It’s the headwaters of the Old Man River watershed, not to mention the numerous waterways that are derived from the area
  • The issue is selenium; it bioaccumulates and doesn’t get flushed out of a human’s or animal’s system, which means toxicity.
  • Why is Lund getting vocal now? Even for aesthetic reasons, it’s just a terrible idea all around
  • Water is so important and this is in his backyard, affecting his friends’ land, and affecting where his family lives and ranches
  • Music plays a role in people’s lives and music is usually how he says what he wants to say, but this is different
  • Since Lund and others have raised the alarm, the government has paused 11 leases, but that’s less than one per cent of what we’re talking about, he says
  • It’s not enough, it really should go back to the 1976 policy under Peter Lougheed
  • It often comes back to jobs, and yes employment is important, but our water is more important, and we can’t reverse this type of development.
  • He’s spoken with those in the coal business, and coal people. There’s selenium problems in other areas, in B.C., the Elk Valley. The argument is that they are old mines, and we have new tech, so just “trust us,” a new mine will be fine
  • Should the policy go further than the lines drawn out in 1976?
  • Category 1: national parks, Category 2: limited exploration, never surface mining, Category 3: surface and under ground mining allowed with approval, and then Category 4: where mining, and open pit mining, has already happened
  • Anything close to a drinking water source should be looked at very closely
  • What can you do? Petitions are good, but call your MLA, call your MLA, meet with them, social media is good, too. Also, call your MLA

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