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Opposition to Grassy Mountain Approval

Reference Number
4984
Date Submitted
2021-01-15 6:02:09 PM
Text

Since the government announced the rescission of the 1976 Coal Policy, I have been watching the Joint Panel Review on the Grassy Mountain Coal project for the last months with both fear and concern. Removing the Coal Policy without any apparent public consultation was inappropriate because it leaves behind a gap in land use regulation due to incomplete regional plans; only two regional plans have been completed in Alberta, and neither address the policy gaps left by the removal of the existing Coal Policy.
I truly understand the benefits of this project, as I have parents who live and own business in Blairmore. However, these benefits are short-term and the potential long-term impacts are much more concerning: risks to drinking water quantity and quality, impacts to federally threatened aquatic populations, mobilization of coal dust into the foothills due to chinook winds, and large carbon emissions. This region is the water source for prairie Canada's cities and towns and irrigation agriculture. It provides unique and essential habitats for many species of wildlife, including species at risk such as grizzly bear and native trout. I also have serious concerns about the long term economic impacts of this project, not only because the metallurgic coal will not be refined in Canada and rather shipped away, but because the companies are all Australian and I am concerned about the large liability of reclamation and remediation costs left on Albertans to shoulder.
I teach my students in a water management class at a university in Alberta about the importance of our highly regulated water allocations. Myself and my colleagues in the water community have been alarmed to find that the Alberta government is considering lifting these allocation limits for the sole purpose of providing greater volumes to coal mine projects. The Oldman watershed's supply is already threatened by climate change and existing plans for growth in the region such as agriculture. Furthermore, this region is drought prone and provinces should be more focused on prevention of drought through maintenance of supply and water conservation - this is greatly more economical than responding to a drought, as shown in countless case studies globally. At this stage, I have seen no evidence that opening the watershed up to further allocations will benefit anyone in the watershed except the short-sighted gains for coal projects and other industrial users.
I am writing to urge the government to reject the Grassy Mountain Coal project as I believe that its approval will domino the approval of other proposed coal mines in Alberta's southern Rocky Mountains. The Oldman watershed should also not be opened for further allocations.
From the Joint Panel Review and discussing with colleagues involved in testimony, it is clear that the risks associated with Grassy Mountain Coal Project far outweigh any possible economic benefits. This project should be rejected by the Federal and Provincial Governments and no other coal projects should be allowed to move forward in the region. Mining coal from Alberta’s Rocky Mountains and foothills is not the future I want for my province. I do not support the rescission of the 1976 Coal Policy for Alberta, and ask that there be no new coal mines, leases, or exploration permits approved until land use planning equivalent to the Coal Policy categories is completed across Alberta, or a new coal policy is put in place.

Submitted by
Nisha Midha
Phase
N/A
Public Notice
N/A
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