Ottawa orders federal review of Alberta coal mine expansion – by Emma Graney (Globe and Mail – July 31, 2020)

Ottawa will re-examine a major expansion planned for the Vista coal mine in Alberta, saying Thursday a federal environmental assessment is necessary given how much the project would increase the site’s size and production.

The existing Vista coal mine is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, near the town of Hinton.

Federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson told The Globe and Mail the expansion project would have “significant” environmental effects that fall under federal jurisdiction, thus triggering the need for an assessment.

Mr. Wilkinson had originally decided last December to keep the federal government out of the approvals process for the mine’s expansion. But he said Thursday he was worried that Vista lodged two separate expansion applications for what he says amounts to a single project.

“That would lead me to be concerned that this is, perhaps, an exercise in project-splitting for the purpose of avoiding a federal assessment,” he said.

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