Alberta forms coal committee in response to intense public backlash – by Emma Graney (Globe and Mail – March 29, 2021)

A new Alberta committee will lead public consultations on how the province should manage coal development, the latest move to mollify public backlash against the government’s decision to quietly kill a 44-year-old coal and land protection policy.

Cancellation of the 1976 coal policy in May made it easier for companies to pursue mines in sensitive regions, but widespread public anger about its removal forced the government to backpedal. It reinstated the policy, cancelled 11 coal leases and promised to consult with Albertans to come up with a new coal mining plan.

The first official steps in that process began Monday with the announcement of the new, independent committee. A survey for Albertans to share their thoughts is also online until April 19. The government says it will work directly with Indigenous leaders and communities to hear their perspectives.

The committee has until Nov. 15 to provide a final report to Energy Minister Sonya Savage. That report will detail Albertans’ perspectives on coal development and provide recommendations for a modern coal policy.

Ms. Savage said Monday that establishing a committee separate from government will ensure all Albertans can have their voices heard as part of the consultations.

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