In the wake of widespread public backlash and a legal challenge, the Alberta government has reinstated a restrictive 45-year-old coal mining policy ripped up by the province last year with no consultation.
However, coal exploration that has already been granted regulatory approval will be allowed to continue.
The province faced intense public pressure after killing Alberta’s 1976 Coal Policy, which provided extra protections for sensitive lands and crucial headwaters on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
Introduced under then-premier Peter Lougheed, the policy laid out how and where coal development could go ahead in the province. It banned open-pit mines over a large area by using land classifications, with completely or highly protected areas deemed Category 1 or 2 lands.
Those land classifications have now been reinstated, and new applications for coal exploration on Category 2 lands have been put on hold pending consultations with Albertans.