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Coal Leases Cancelled? Smoke and Mirrors?


Walton
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Coal leases: Minister Savage

January 18, 2021

Minister of Energy Sonya Savage issued the following statement on the decision to cancel 11 recently issued coal leases and pause any future coal lease sales in former Category 2 lands:

“We have listened carefully to the concerns raised in recent days, and thank those who spoke up with passion.

“As a result, we will pause future coal lease sales in former Category 2 lands. The coal leases from the December 2020 auction will be cancelled.

“I want to be absolutely clear: Under the current terms, just as it was under the 1976 coal policy, coal leases do not allow for exploration, development or production without a comprehensive regulatory review. A lease holder has no more right to set foot on lease property than any other Albertan. The same rules apply now, as before.

“This pause will provide our government with the opportunity to ensure that the interests of Albertans, as owners of mineral resources, are protected.

“Coal development remains an important part of the Western Canadian economy, especially in rural communities, but we are committed to demonstrating that it will only be developed responsibly under Alberta’s modern regulatory standards and processes.

“This decision has no impact on existing coal projects currently under regulatory review.”

 

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Too little, too late: “Pause” on new coal leases fails to address ongoing threat of coal development in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains.

January 18th, 2021

CPAWS Southern and Northern Alberta chapters are concerned that the Minister of Energy has not heard the real concerns of Albertans on new coal developments in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. 

Today the Minister of Energy announced the suspension of mineral lease auctions for coal in areas that were protected from open pit coal mining by Alberta’s now-defunct Coal Policy - formerly known as Category 2 lands. But conservationists are concerned the announcement is too little, too late.

“While this is a step in the right direction, this ‘pause’ will have little effect on the ability of existing leases to be explored and developed for coal in the region,” says Katie Morrison, Conservation Director with CPAWS Southern Alberta. “There are more than 840,000 hectares of coal leases and rights in the Eastern Slopes. This area includes around 420,000 hectares within lands formerly protected as Category 2 (an area approximately the size of Kananaskis Country) that are now, and still with today’s announcement, open for development as open-pit coal mines. These areas continue to be open and at risk from coal exploration and mine development.”

Since the cancellation of Alberta’s Coal Policy in June 2020, there has been an influx of coal exploration development - building of new roads and deep drill pits - in some of Alberta’s most environmentally sensitive areas. These areas are the source of Alberta’s water and contain habitat for species at risk such as grizzly bears, caribou, and native trout. They also include some of Alberta’s most iconic scenic landscapes, which are important areas for local economic drivers such as ranching and outdoor recreation.

Today’s announcement does nothing to address the impact coal exploration is having on these sensitive areas, nor the ability of the companies on these lands or other existing leases in Category 2 lands to continue moving forward with mine development. Cancelling the newest 11 leases changes very little with regards to the scale of the impact the removal of the Coal Policy has on Alberta's Eastern Slopes. The 11 leases referenced in the government press release were small, covering only 1800 hectares (0.002% of the area that has already been leased).

“Whether or not the coal leases were existing or new, open-pit coal mines are now allowed in Alberta’s headwaters where they previously were not,” says Morrison.

“We have heard from thousands of Albertans who have been very clear that they do not support coal exploration or mine development in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains,” adds Chris Smith, Parks Coordinator with CPAWS Northern Alberta. “The Minister’s announcement in no way addresses these concerns. We are asking the Government of Alberta to fully reinstate the Coal Policy, hold public consultations on the issue, and permanently prohibit new coal proposals, exploration, and open-pit mines in these important areas.” 

 

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This is clear indication the the current group in government have little regard to our natural areas in our Province everything is based on the dollar. They give us a little crumb of 1800 hectares yet leave the other 418200 hectares open for exploitation.

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  • Walton changed the title to Coal Leases Cancelled? Smoke and Mirrors?

 

Alberta's recent coal blunders in the news again today, this time on Alberta sitting on coal mine contamination data.

I wonder when the topic of methane emissions from coal mining will come up.  Huge amounts of methane are being quietly vented to the atmosphere every day in every one of the province's coal mines, methane being a very potent greenhouse gas (far more so than CO2).  I wonder if these methane emissions are at all quantified/estimated, and if the coal companies doing the mining/venting have to account for this (e.g., as a large final emitter in the provincial TIER GHG regulation).   In December, Justin announced that the federal regulated price of CO2 is going to $170/tonne by 2030.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the methane emissions from coal mining in Alberta are in the megatonne/year scale (on a CO2 tonnage equivalent basis).  Megatonne-scale CO2 emitters certainly attract a lot of regulatory attention, both provincially and federally.

I haven't been through the Grassy Lake or any other proposed coal mine regulatory application information, but I wonder if all this GHG accounting for methane emissions is included in the information.

IMHO, methane-GHG emissions could be a major regulatory issue for these coal mines, both existing and proposed.  I suspect the GHG numbers may be shocking in size.

 

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On 1/26/2021 at 1:01 PM, Sparkplug said:

 

Alberta's recent coal blunders in the news again today, this time on Alberta sitting on coal mine contamination data.

I wonder when the topic of methane emissions from coal mining will come up.  Huge amounts of methane are being quietly vented to the atmosphere every day in every one of the province's coal mines, methane being a very potent greenhouse gas (far more so than CO2).  I wonder if these methane emissions are at all quantified/estimated, and if the coal companies doing the mining/venting have to account for this (e.g., as a large final emitter in the provincial TIER GHG regulation).   In December, Justin announced that the federal regulated price of CO2 is going to $170/tonne by 2030.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the methane emissions from coal mining in Alberta are in the megatonne/year scale (on a CO2 tonnage equivalent basis).  Megatonne-scale CO2 emitters certainly attract a lot of regulatory attention, both provincially and federally.

I haven't been through the Grassy Lake or any other proposed coal mine regulatory application information, but I wonder if all this GHG accounting for methane emissions is included in the information.

IMHO, methane-GHG emissions could be a major regulatory issue for these coal mines, both existing and proposed.  I suspect the GHG numbers may be shocking in size.

 

Oh Sparkplug, the solution is already in place.  When it all hits the fan us tax payers will here to foot the bill.

 

I can't determine if our current government is incredibly arrogant or remarkably stupid by their handling of governing this province.... and I voted for them.

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