CALGARY, ALTA.—All coal exploration projects on Category 2 lands in Alberta have ceased after demands from residents.
Almost 25,000 Albertans from across the province shared feedback in an online survey to help inform the next steps of the coal policy.
After analyzing the results, officials found many Albertans have significant concerns about coal exploration. Based on the feedback, the Coal Policy Committee, an independent group appointed to lead comprehensive public engagement to inform the development of a modern coal policy, has recommended to the government that coal exploration in Category 2 lands be suspended.
Energy Minister Sonya Savage has directed coal companies to halt exploration. The affected companies have indicated they will co-operate with the pause.
“Thank you to the thousands of Albertans who took part in the initial survey,” said Savage in a statement. “Your voices are being heard. We are halting exploration activities in Category 2 lands because we remain steadfast in our commitment to having an open and honest conversation about the long-term approach to coal development in our province.”
The province had these takeaways after early reviews of the survey:
- The majority of respondents feel the management of the province’s coal resources affect them.
- “Environmental impacts of coal development” and “if and where coal development takes place” were ranked by respondents as the most important issues when discussing Alberta’s coal policy.
- The majority of respondents feel there are areas of the province that are not appropriate for coal development, while almost one-third of respondents say there are areas of the province where development could be appropriate.
- Albertans would like to participate in the engagement process through additional online surveys and virtual meetings.
- Respondents want to learn more about the approval processes for exploration and development, as well the coal categories, which dictate where and how coal leasing, exploration and development can occur.
- The majority of respondents expressed concerns about coal exploration.