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Letter: This is an entirely a preventable environmental atrocity

'This government has lost my trust, my confidence and my vote...'

I must add my voice to the significant opposition being raised to new proposed coal strip mines in the eastern slopes of our province’s Rocky Mountains. 

Due to the speed and narrow scope of the present consultation, the current administration appears to have some desperate need for accomplishment prior the next election. This is a mistake. 

I feel clarity and openness is not only required, but an absolute necessity for the court of public opinion.

Do remember the Canmore Nordic Centre is built on a coal lease that, would have strip mined coal to the Banff National Park boundary. Public outcry stopped the strip mine.

We need answers to the following:

How many and for how long, have consultants and lobbyists pursued the coal licences?

What comments were provided by ministries such as Environment and Parks, Agriculture and Forestry, Indigenous Relations, Transportation, and Municipal Affairs, and how were the comments addressed?

Who bears the costs of infrastructure such as new haul roads and bridges to get the coal to a rail head and the cost to upgrade and maintain the existing road network?

What other unlisted infrastructure are the people of Alberta on the hook for?

Will farmers be compensated for reduced crop yields over the next 100 years (for contaminated irrigation waters)?

Environmental impact: How will the mining companies retain the mercury, lead, arsenic and radioactive materials produced by surface coal mining, on site? Or has relaxation of environmental (air, water, dust) regulations been promised?

Do the mining companies have a track record of complying with environmental regulations and remediation of mining leases? Will the mining companies post a substantial financial bond for cleanup, site restoration and any enduring environmental pollution?

An Alberta government 2006 file indicates over 2,500 active or abandoned mines. How often has their environmental impact been assessed? We should not add to these existing abandoned and environmentally unreclaimed sites. This is already a horrible legacy to mining.

Subsidies: What financial or taxation abeyances have been promised? What other unlisted inducements have been used to gain the approval of licenses? Compensation for stakeholders?

The Stoney Elder, Chief John Snow said, regarding mountains: “They are a place of hope, a place of vision, a place of refuge, a very special and holy place where the Great Spirit speaks with us. Therefore, these mountains are our sacred places.”

What possible compensation could be offered to all people who consider these places sacred?

Should these strip mines go ahead, the entire legislature must travel to the site. For the common courtesy to pronounce the death sentence to this valley, personally.

This is an entirely preventable environmental atrocity. 

Perhaps a referendum is needed here, and now.

Owing to ill-conceived legislation that will further harm our current sustainable environment and our futures, this government has lost my trust, my confidence and my vote. I am an independent voter.

C.W. Southoff, retired technologist,