The Alberta NDP will reintroduce legislation aimed at protecting the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and watersheds from coal mining and similar activities.
The act would immediately cancel all current activity in the area including road building and cancel existing leases in category one and two lands.
The Eastern Slopes Protection Act was introduced back in April by NDP Leader Rachel Notley, but the UCP government did not bring it to a vote.
The act will be now reintroduced as the very first private members bill to be debated in the fall.
“We will bring this to a vote and I sincerely hope it passes,” Notley said in a news release.
“But one way or another, we will put the UCP caucus on record on whether they want to protect the eastern slopes or not.”
The act would also prohibit the Alberta Energy Regulator from issuing approvals, such as water permits.
The act also cancels leases issued in conjunction with the UCP’s cancelation of the 1976 coal development policy in May 2020, pending the outcome of the regional plan.
“I and many thousands of other Albertans are so grateful and relieved to know that Rachel Notley and the Alberta NDP still know what matters to Albertans – a beautiful, livable province with clean rivers and a secure water future – and are prepared to protect our Eastern Slopes by slamming the brakes on coal and inviting us all to work out better plans for its future,” said Kevin van Tighem, former superintendent of Banff National Park.
“Only someone who doesn’t care about the wishes of Albertans and the future well-being of this province would vote against this bill.”
Existing mines and processing plants that are actively operating would be unaffected, but exploration permits would be cancelled across all categories including road developments and test pits.
If the legislation passes, the government would be on the hook for compensating mining companies for cancelling leases.
“Albertans can be confident that every member of the NDP caucus will enthusiastically support this bill to protect these distinctly Albertan outdoor spaces and protect the watersheds that provide us with clean water for farmers and ranchers and families right across Alberta,” Notley said.
The government put out a survey asking Albertans if they want development on the land in question.
“I encourage every Albertan who has UCP MLA to reach out to them and tell them to support this bill,” Notley added.
Ali Howat, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh