This year, Albertans won’t find out if there’s coal in their stockings until after Christmas. Sometime early in 2022 – the government won’t say exactly when – Energy Minister Sonya Savage is to release two reports that will determine the future of coal mining in the province’s beloved Rocky Mountain foothills and eastern slopes.
One report will sum up months of submissions from Albertans, the other will make recommendations. The choice is stark. You either build a mine or you don’t, said Craig Snodgrass, mayor of High River, Alta., a town just east of the foothills that opposes mining.
“There’s no middle ground here, no balance to be struck.” It’s no good roping off some parts of the mountains and opening up others, said Katie Morrison of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. The whole region shares the same environmental value, including providing most of Alberta with drinking water.
“I can’t think of an area that would not contain those (values) that we could see as a sacrifice zone,” she said. Mining companies, too, know what’s at stake.