Coal mining is already having an impact in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry’s presence in one of the province’s most beloved landscapes.
“They’ve been very active up there,” said Kevin Van Tighem, who lives near one of the areas now heavily leased for coal exploration.
The United Conservative government’s decision to revoke a policy that had protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976 has convulsed the province.
Petitions opposing the move have gathered more than 100,000 signatures. Popular Alberta entertainment figures have come out against it and area ranchers and First Nations are trying to force a judicial review of the decision.
Documents from the Alberta Energy Regulator show that permission has already been granted for hundreds of drill sites and kilometres of roads threading through critical wildlife habitat and land previously untouched by mining.
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