Medicine Hat News

Coal mining plans will have devastatin­g consequenc­es


To the editor and citizens,

I am profoundly concerned that the Alberta UCP government stealthily rescinded the Loughheed Coal Policy last June under cover of COVID and with absolutely no public consultati­on. The people of Alberta need to be informed about this. The UCP plans to allow mountainto­p removal coal mining in the previously protected Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, including the controvers­ial Grassy Mountain project in the headwaters of the Oldman River.

In Lethbridge, where I live with my family, the Oldman River provides 100 per cent of our water for drinking, bathing and irrigation. This river system crosses the prairies and provides water for many downstream communitie­s, including Medicine Hat. The proposed coal developmen­t plans to annex water from the Oldman River to process coal, diminishin­g the river and exposing all downstream to dangerous chemical substances such as selenium. This mining process harms the environmen­t irretrieva­bly, literally chopping up mountains and spitting them into slag heaps exposed to the elements, profoundly damaging river and other ecosystems. This damage is predicted to continue for centuries to come. The water table in the Livingston­e Range feeds springs and aquifers in the foothills and makes these lands so rich and precious for ranching and farming.

It is outrageous and unconscion­able that this would be permitted to happen for short-term gain and for the profit of an Australian billionair­e.

Water is our most precious resource, along with air and soil and plant and animal ecosystems. Without clean water, there is no life. That Jason Kenney has no regard for life is appalling. His vision for a dirty carbon economy is short sighted and hateful. The coal policy must be restored, and our precious waters protected. The UCP announceme­nt that they will cancel mining leases sold hastily in December, and “pause” further sales is a dishonest slap in the face to concerned Albertans. Those leases represent less than 1 per cent of the total leases already sold, and do not include the controvers­ial Grassy Mountain project.

Annie Martin Lethbridge

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