May 30th, 2024

Government documents confirm coal lobbying on Rockies mining, show months of planning

By The Canadian Press on April 16, 2024.

Traffic travels along the Trans Canada Highway past Mount Rundle of the Rocky Mountains near Canmore, Alta., Monday, April 24, 2023. Documents released under Alberta Freedom of Information laws confirm the United Conservative government was talking with the coal industry for "years" about relaxing a policy that protected the Rocky Mountains from open-pit mines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

EDMONTON – Documents released under Alberta Freedom of Information laws confirm the United Conservative government was talking with the coal industry for years about relaxing a policy that protected the Rocky Mountains from open-pit mines.

The documents also show the province was talking about opening those landscapes to more development generally for at least seven months before letting the public in on its plans.

The Canadian Press has seen material released to a group of southern Alberta ranchers who have waged a four-year battle against Alberta Energy to understand why the province rescinded a decades-old policy protecting the Rockies from coal mines.

A judge last week stymied government attempts to block further releases and the ranchers are now waiting for thousands more pages.

But the records already obtained refer repeatedly to meetings and communications with industry over the policy well before it was rescinded in May 2020.

They show bureaucrats were working as early as October 2019 on ways to remedy what they called “underinvestment” in the area.

Public opposition to open-pit coal mining eventually forced the government to backtrack on its decision.

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