Several Alberta ranchers and First Nations have launched legal bids to put a halt to a provincial decision easing the development of open-pit coal mines on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
The ranchers fear it will not only harm their cattle operations near the headwaters of the Oldman River but also risk polluting water used downstream by farmers and communities, such as Lethbridge and as far east as Saskatchewan.
“(The headwaters) just supply really pure, clean water, and once they destroy that, we can never get it back,” said Mac Blades of the Rocking P Ranch near Nanton, Alta. “There is no reclaiming an open-pit mine.”
Along with John Smith and Laura Laing of Plateau Cattle Co., Blades is asking for a judicial review of a provincial decision ending a 44-year-old Alberta policy that regulated surface coal mining on the eastern slopes.
The request is to be heard by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary for two days during the week of Jan. 18, said lawyer Richard Harrison of Wilson Laycraft.
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