The Alberta government announced today that the 1976 coal policy that had been quietly repealed in June of 2020, will be reinstated. The province says it made the decision after hearing concerns raised by Albertans about surface coal mining.
Four coal categories, which dictate where and how coal leasing, exploration, and development can occur are included in the policy. The Ministry of Energy for the province further issued directives to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) that no mountaintop removal will be permitted and all of the 1976 restriction are to apply, including restrictions on surface mining in Category 2 lands.
“On this, I need to be clear about the current situation on these Category 2 lands,” said Minister of Energy Sonya Savage during a press conference. “First, there are six projects that are being explored for potential development, this means that core samples are being taken, perhaps roads are being built, it does not mean that a project will be developed. And second, exploration on four of these six projects began under the 1976 policy.”
All future coal exploration approvals on Category 2 lands will be prohibited, pending consultations on a new coal policy stated the Ministry of Energy’s office.
A media release stated that all proposed coal projects continue to be subject to stringent review by the AER and that projects can only proceed if approved through a rigorous regulatory process and adhere to all existing laws and regulations.
Current exploration on Category 2 lands will continue, and of the six coal projects, four began exploration under the 1976 coal policy and the two remaining applications were approved after the 1976 coal policy was rescinded last spring. Coal lease sales remain paused.