Coal Policy Committee

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The Coal Policy Committee was established in March to develop and lead a widespread and comprehensive public engagement to inform Alberta’s long-term approach to coal development. The committee is responsible for ensuring the views of all Albertans are represented. The committee will provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Energy. Their final report is due to the Minister by November 15, 2021.


For general questions and inquiries about this project, please email energy.coalpolicy@gov.ab.ca.


Technical submissions

The deadline to provide technical submissions was September 19, 2021. Thank you to those who participated.

The Coal Policy Committee was established in March to develop and lead a widespread and comprehensive public engagement to inform Alberta’s long-term approach to coal development. The committee is responsible for ensuring the views of all Albertans are represented. The committee will provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Energy. Their final report is due to the Minister by November 15, 2021.


For general questions and inquiries about this project, please email energy.coalpolicy@gov.ab.ca.


Technical submissions

The deadline to provide technical submissions was September 19, 2021. Thank you to those who participated.

  • Central Alberta tour

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    Following our tour of southern Alberta communities, the Coal Policy Committee wanted to visit other parts of the province to ensure we hear from as many Albertans as possible. With this in mind, we recently completed a tour in central Alberta, during which we met with various municipal and community representatives.

    This included meetings in Rocky Mountain House, Edson, Hinton and the Nordegg area with:

    • Reeve Cammie Baird and Council colleagues from Clearwater County
    • Mayor Tammy Burke and Council colleagues from Town of Rocky Mountain House
    • Deputy Mayor Wade Williams and Council colleagues from Yellowhead County
    • representatives of United Mine Workers of America Local 1656 and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 955
    • Hinton Mayor Marcel Michaels and a Council colleague
    • representatives from the Hinton & District Chamber of Commerce
    • representatives from the Athabasca Watershed Bioregional Society
    • Misty Valley community member Jerzy Maslanka
    • representatives from the West Country Sustainability Coalition

    The topics discussed with these groups were wide-ranging. Concerns were raised about the environmental outcomes of coal mining, including GHG emissions and water pollutants, and the need for more accountability of sustainable practices. We also heard concerns about the effect of coal mining on tourism and recreation. Communities expressed concerns about the transportation of coal through communities, while previous mining communities also shared their experiences with dust and traffic. Conversely, we also heard from those worried over the adverse effects on towns and regions when mines are closed prematurely.

    Other comments included addressed the developments in technology – such as carbon capture – that can improve the environmental outcomes of coal mining, though appropriate regulation and enforcement. We heard about the increase in wildlife on reclaimed properties. However, we also heard that reclaimed footprints may act as “wildlife population sinks” – which could lead to the habitat being abandoned. It was recommended that the cumulative effects on ecosystems, inclusive of all industries, needs to be taken into account.

    The committee also heard about the competing interests between the shift in global energy demand for lower-emission sources with an overall increasing demand for energy. We were reminded that Alberta does not operate in isolation. We heard that Alberta’s high quality, low-sulfur coal could provide a global benefit over other coal that will otherwise be used by foreign jurisdictions, but that Alberta must achieve environmental outcomes independent of international economics and environmental interests.

    The coal categories were another topic of discussion. We heard suggestions to re-think the categories to better align with the province today, in contrast to when the 1976 Coal Policy was implemented. For example, the location of Category 2 leases beside key recreational areas was of significant concern. A dedicated policy for the Eastern Slopes was also suggested.

    Lastly, communities voiced their support for local decisions and interests and concerns about federal interventions on energy decisions.

    In addition to the meetings, the committee was able to tour the Coalspur Vista Mine that is actively mining thermal coal. We also visited the Luscar and Cardinal River metallurgical coal mine sites owned by Teck Resources; these sites are under various states of reclamation. We learned about the sites being reclaimed, the successes to date, and how they respond to changing requirements over time. The Committee appreciated seeing a fully reclaimed site at the Luscar mine.

    The tour of central Alberta was very informative and we thank everyone for their time and input. The experience was valuable as we consolidate feedback from the southern tour and all the submissions we have received to date.


    Site visit to Teck Resources' reclaimed Luscar mine site.

    Meeting with council members from the Town of Rocky Mountain House and Clearwater County.


  • Update from the committee - August

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    August marks five months since the Coal Policy Committee began engaging Albertans on a modern coal policy. We continue hear from Albertans about the management of coal resources in Alberta.

    This past month, we held more virtual meetings with interested parties. We also undertook a tour of several communities in central Alberta. That tour provided an opportunity to meet with several groups in the region and to visit and view active and reclaimed mines in the area. A more detailed post about the tour will be published soon.

    The committee was pleased to receive 101 more written submissions through our mailbox in August, bringing the total to 605 submissions since March. We encourage Albertans to submit a technical submission or send us your thoughts on managing Alberta’s coal resources as the deadline for submissions is fast approaching. The deadline for either email or technical submissions is September 19.

    As August draws to a close, we are wrapping up Phase 2 of our engagement process. Looking ahead to September, we will also be completing our Indigenous engagement process, which supplements the Alberta government’s nation-to-nation engagement with Indigenous communities in Alberta. We will also be compiling the advice and perspectives received from Albertans to inform our recommendations in our final report.

    Thank you again to all who have submitted their comments to the committee. We look forward to sharing more on our progress next month.

  • Southern Alberta tour - Part 2

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    During the committee’s tour of communities in southern Alberta, it was a privilege to be able to hold in person meetings after the lifting of certain restrictions due to COVID. In this second installment, we will provide a brief overview of what the committee learned during various site visits.

    We were pleased to be able to see several sites firsthand and to better understand the issues associated with past and proposed future coal developments in Alberta.

    Three coal development companies – Atrum Coal, Cabin Ridge Coal and Montem Resources – welcomed the committee to their proposed project sites. During these visits, the committee members witnessed examples of how the companies work to minimize certain impacts associated with mining, such as removal, reclamation and recontouring of landscapes. The companies explained proposals to re-enter existing sites and then progressively reclaim affected areas. The site visits offered the committee members the opportunity to speak with employees and hear their perspectives about economic and employment opportunities as well.

    The committee was also invited to the Rocking-P Ranch, where they were joined by the owners of the Plateau Cattle Company. The ranchers shared their history on the land, the importance of cattle and proper range management, and discussed the economic benefit of agriculture as a whole. They shared their perspectives that ranching and coal development cannot coexist, and discussed the impact of uncertainty surrounding coal development that is affecting their lives and their businesses.

    Lastly, the committee met with local Alberta Environment and Parks staff who explained and demonstrated the different coal land categories in the region and the land-use plans currently in place for the landscape.

    We are grateful to our hosts for taking the time to show us the area and share their expertise, thoughts and concerns.

    Meeting with representatives from Montem Resources during the site visitSite visit to Cabin RidgeMeeting with Alberta Environment and Parks Staff

    Site visit to Tent Mountain


  • Southern Alberta tour - Part 1

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    Since March, the Coal Policy Committee has been meeting virtually with Albertans from across the province. With many COVID restrictions lifted, we were excited to hold our first in-person meetings during our recent tour of communities in southern Alberta.

    The tour included both site visits and meetings. In the first installment of this two-part series we are pleased to share more about the discussions we had with various groups.

    While we discussed many topics associated with coal development, a common theme the committee heard throughout the various meetings was how privileged many Albertans were to be living in a landscape bordered to the west by the eastern slopes and mountains. There was a strong opinion expressed that Albertans – whether or not they support coal mining – do not wish to see the area, particularly their waters and the headwater regions, adversely affected by coal development.

    The committee tours included meetings with:

    • Reeve Brian Hammond and Councillors from the M.D. of Pincher Creek
    • Representatives of the Livingstone Landowners Group and the Pekisko Group
    • Mayor Blair Painter and Council of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass
    • Piikani Chief Stanley Grier and three of his Council colleagues

    In these meetings, many concerns were shared with the committee. These concerns were related to:

    • The impact of selenium and other contaminants on human health and the environment
    • The importance of protecting our headwaters
    • The effect of changing weather and land use patterns on water allocations
    • The economic booms and busts related to resource development including coal mining
    • Possible impacts on recreational resources and tourism
    • Concern for economic development and for jobs in southern Alberta
    • The possible effects on agricultural producers and municipalities

    Several participants told us about how these concerns could have negative impacts on their livelihoods and lifestyle. They also spoke about how many of these effects – on their environment or their communities – could be irreversible. These participants did not believe that any potential economic benefit would offset these risks.

    We also heard from those who are concerned about the critical need for economic opportunities within their community. They believe mining the high-quality metallurgical coal found in Alberta would result in jobs, and that the issues with coal development, such as selenium contamination, could be resolved.

    Other discussions requested that government provide clarity on mining terms and examine possible better alignment between the Alberta Energy Regulator, environmental protection and future coal policies.

    While formal Indigenous engagement is presently under way through a parallel process led by the Alberta government, we were pleased to be invited to meet with Piikani First Nation Chief Grier and his council colleagues. Chief Grier and the council members shared their experiences with the committee, and talked about the Piikani people and their connection to the area, as well as some of the social and economic challenges they face. The Chief and council also spoke about the lack of economic activity in the region and the reserve’s need for industry, economy and infrastructure, in addition to their concerns over the environmental effects of coal mining.

    From the start of the engagement process, we’ve understood the issues around coal development to be varied and complex. We appreciated the opportunity to meet with people who live in an area that would be affected by coal development. We are grateful for your input.Meeting with Mayor Blair Painter and Council of the Municipality of Crowsnest PassMeeting with representatives of the Livingstone Landowners Group and the Pekisko GroupMeeting with Reeve Brian Hammond and Councillors from the M.D. of Pincher Creek

    Stay tuned for Part 2, which will provide more details about the site visits that took place during the tour.

  • Update from the committee - July

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    July was another productive month for the Coal Policy Committee. Throughout the month, we continued to meet with interested parties and technical experts who shared their perspectives, concerns and knowledge with committee members. In addition, the committee participated in a virtual Indigenous engagement session held by Alberta Energy at the end of June. These conversations touched on a wide range of topics, including, fish and wildlife conservation, ecological impacts of coal mining, responsible resource development, effective regulatory regimes, water quality and climate change. A full list of stakeholder meetings can be found here.

    As COVID restrictions were lifted at the beginning of July, the Committee was also able to tour southern Alberta. While there, the Committee toured three proposed coal project sites with the respective proponents, and coal category lands with Alberta Environment and Parks. The Committee also met with the Chief and some Council members from the Piikani First Nation, representatives from local municipalities, ranchers, and landowner groups. Stay tuned for more detailed posts about the tour.

    As this month comes to a close, the Committee continues to plan its next phase of meetings and engagement for the month of August, which will include a tour to sites in central Alberta.

    In July, we received another 103 individual submissions from across the province through the mailbox. We encourage Albertans and organizations to submit technical submissions through our website and the coal policy mailbox before the end of August to allow ample time for us to consider your input as we form our recommendations.

    We would like to thank all Albertans who have taken the time to share their views and provide recommendations for a modernized coal policy for Alberta. We look forward to continuing to engage with you.

  • Update from the committee - June

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    June was a fast-paced month for the Coal Policy Committee as it progressed into Phase 2 of its engagement plan. Significant progress was achieved in scheduling and meeting with numerous stakeholders and technical experts who provided their perspectives, raised issues of concerns and offered recommendations for a modernised coal policy for Alberta.

    Conversations touched on topics such as selenium management, access to recreational areas and activities, wildlife habitat, health concerns, responsible resource development, supply and access to fresh water and related environmental issues. The full list of stakeholder meetings held in June can be found here.

    Albertans continue to submit technical information to the committee through our website. In addition, more than 90 individual submissions and perspectives were received in June through the coal policy mailbox. In total, the committee has received almost 400 emails since March.

    Stakeholder materials in support of their positions and the technical submissions can be found here.

    The Committee is currently preparing for the next phase of meetings for July. As COVID measures in Alberta are lifted, the committee is considering selected site-visits.

    We are grateful to have received very informative briefs during our engagement sessions and look forward to continuing with this outreach to Albertans.

  • Update from the committee - May

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    May was another very busy month for the Coal Policy Committee. As a group, we continue to meet on a regular basis and have achieved substantial progress on developing and planning engagements with Albertans on their perspectives and recommendations for a modernized Coal Policy.

    The committee continues to explore other ways to interact with Albertans via this web platform. We were pleased to begin accepting technical submissions when this page launched on May 17. You can view submitted documents here. If you would like to submit a document, learn more here.

    In addition to technical submissions, we have received technical briefings from subject matter experts from organizations like the Alberta Energy Regulator regarding coal exploration and development in Alberta. The committee will continue to meet with experts on a variety of topics.

    Albertans continue to share their perspectives on coal development. We received 63 individual submissions in May, bringing the total to 259 submissions. Thank you for taking the time to send in your thoughts as they greatly enhance and inform our work.

    Engagement sessions and bookings are well underway for the summer months. We have sessions scheduled with a wide range of representative groups, including communities, landowners, industry, non-government organizations and Indigenous peoples. We also understand our engagement with Indigenous communities will need to be closely co-ordinated with the Government of Alberta’s nation-to-nation engagement currently underway.

    We will continue to share updates as the engagement progresses.


  • Message from the Chair

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    On behalf of the Coal Policy Committee, welcome to our engagement website. And thank you for taking time to visit and learn about what we’re doing.

    During March and April, the Government of Alberta opened a preliminary survey about coal and the coal policy and it received nearly 25,000 responses. Our committee has been reviewing those responses to help inform our approach. The responses signal that Albertans are eager for a vigorous analysis and debate about coal development in our province. That’s exactly what we intend to do as an independent committee.

    It’s clear that a lot of people have questions about coal, the different types of coal, how they’re used, how they’re developed, what the risks are and whether technology has changed much since 1976. We share those views and intend to discuss many of those same questions with Albertans. We’re going to do our best to provide information on this website and as we learn more, we’re going to share it with you.

    It’s also quite clear that water quality and land use, as they relate to possible coal development, are of concern to Albertans. Many have said that the potential impacts on water must be carefully examined, as well as the potential impacts on air quality, biodiversity, land disturbance, and culture and tourism. We intend to hear from Albertans, including Indigenous communities, in order to form recommendations about a new, modernized Coal Policy for Alberta.

    We know there are significant concerns associated with the Coal Policy and we understand why. The stakes are high and we want to get this right for all Albertans.

    “It should come as no surprise that in the time since the Eastern Slopes Policy and the 1976 Coal Policy were developed changing times have led to changing perceptions among Albertans. Just as the climate is changing, so is the economy and equally are the expectations of citizens who cherish their futures and that of their children and grandchildren. We openly solicit engagement with those Albertans who choose to embrace constructive dialogue about how our cherished resources are managed and protected. We promise to hear those who choose to participate with us as we develop recommendations for sound policies. This is the single most essential step to the achievement of desired outcomes for Albertans.”

    Our committee is designed to be an independent voice and we’re going to bring that spirit to our work by engaging in an open and transparent process. The committee will be guided by the evidence and by what Albertans have to say.

    This website will be a big part of that. We’ll be posting written submissions that we receive from key stakeholders and subject matter experts, so that you can read what we’re reading.

    We’re also going to meet with many different groups, including Indigenous Peoples, landowners, environmental organizations, representatives from various economic sectors and the research community. Also, importantly, we’re going to ask Albertans-at-large for their thoughts.

    We have many different areas where we need your advice and wisdom, so please keep checking this website. We will be asking questions that require your input – plus we’ll be posting regular updates about what Albertans are telling us.

    Thank you for taking part in our process.

    Ron Wallace, Ph.D.
    Chair, Coal Policy Committee


  • Engagement strategy update

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    As a first step, the Coal Policy Committee has reviewed the feedback from the initial Government of Alberta survey. The survey allowed the committee to take into consideration public concerns about coal development in Alberta and to further develop our plan to engage with Albertans.

    Following these developments and due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the committee proposes to engage with Albertans virtually, as a first step in our process. There are currently two ways to connect with the committee.

    • If you wish to share your thoughts on coal policy with the committee, you can email the committee at energy.coalpolicy@gov.ab.ca.
    • If you have a paper or document on a topic relevant to Alberta’s coal policy, please submit it here. Please note these documents may be posted publicly.

    The committee also intends to gather advice and input from Indigenous communities, technical experts and industry regarding Alberta’s coal policy through:

    • Roundtable discussions
    • Submission of written briefs and presentations from subject matter experts on topics related to coal development such as:
      • Understanding current mining technology
      • Environmental and social effects of mining projects
      • Economic impacts of coal development

    Our engagement process will be responsive to feedback and we hope to design additional opportunities to connect with the committee. These opportunities will be added as needed as we progress with our work.

    More details on engagement activities will be made available soon.

  • Report to the Minister - April

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    Since the committee was appointed in late March 2021, the Coal Policy Committee (CPC) has been hard at work, developing a strategy to engage with Albertans regarding the development of a modern Coal Policy. We have held a series of meetings that have informed this work. The following is a summary of the update provided to the Minister of Energy for the month of April.

    First, based on input from Albertans, the committee recommended to the Minister of Energy that exploration in Category 2 lands be halted while the engagement process was ongoing. We are pleased the Minister accepted our recommendation.

    To date, several themes and indications of expectations, as reflected in our initial engagement with key opinion leaders and as a result of the initial survey, have emerged:

    • Transparency of the work of the committee is central to building trust
    • The committee is expected to provide clear information on how, when and where it plans to engage with the public
    • Many expect that our focus should be on factual, science-based presentations


    The committee is committed to ensuring that information gathered during our engagement is broadly available to all Albertans while recognizing the limitations of any engagement during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also recognize that this may require using web tools where possible while we develop other appropriate engagement options for Albertans who may have difficulty connecting through electronic and/or social media in remote locations, including Indigenous communities.

    We look forward to sharing more updates soon.

Page last updated: 24 September 2021, 16:33