I am writing this letter in response to the article headlined "Environment minister responds to coal concerns," on page 29 of the July 6 Albertan.
In the second paragraph he states that there are no new coal projects. While there may be no approved projects yet there are companies in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies that are clearing trees, building roads and exploring for coal. Are you aware that the government of Alberta has increased the amount of clear cutting allowed in our province by 33 per cent this year? People that hike the backcountry have noticed clear cutting happening close to coal leases.
Jason Nixon goes on to say that the Grassy Mountain project in the Crowsnest Pass was denied. The truth is that a committee of environmental regulators after their review established that this project is not in the public interest. This report now goes to the federal environment minister for his ruling.
I find it curious that two weeks after this report was made public, the company that owns the lease for Grassy Mountain was granted a water licence to be used for exploration and mining. A lot of water is needed for the coal mining process; water that is normally allocated for agriculture, household use, commercial growers, forest firefighting.
Water is becoming a precious commodity and there is only so much to go around. We should be concerned about the quantity and quality of our water.
The runoff from coal mining poisons our water with toxins and there is no long-term successful way to clean this water. For those that are interested check out Teck Resources and their water issues in B.C. Northern states in the U.S. are complaining about the impurities flowing in their rivers coming from Canada. Teck resources was fined $60 million this year for the elevated selenium levels in the Elk Valley waterways. The Teck mine borders the B.C.- Alberta border. It is curious to me that Nixon is not aware of this fine. He states that Alberta has rigorous environment rules. Rules that aren’t always enforced.
The closest coal leases to us lie near Nordegg, close to Crescent Falls which is a beautiful nature area known for its recreational opportunities.
Here are some numbers to consider. Fifty-two municipalities in Alberta including Mountain View County and the Town of Olds have written letters of concern to the government of Alberta regarding the proposed coal mines. Seventy per cent of Albertans polled are against coal mining in the Eastern Slopes.
The companies that are buying the coal leases are mostly Australian. They mine the coal and sell it to China paying our government one per cent in royalties, which I’ve been told is approximately $100 per coal car. Really? Is this what we want to do in our mountains? Meanwhile, Algoma Steel in Ontario is getting $420 million in government money to help phase out coal fired steel making processes. Why don’t we in Alberta look toward green energy? Coal is an old, outdated, dirty form of energy!
If you are interested in learning more about proposed coal mines in Alberta, check out Protect Alberta’s Rockies and Headwaters Facebook page. Thirty-seven thousand Albertans belong to this page and it is full of valuable factual information from a variety of sources, including biologists and retired Alberta Parks workers.