Coal exploration and development poses an enormous risk in the headwaters of our rivers. CPAWS Northern Alberta and concerned residents of the North Saskatchewan River watershed believe that widespread, sustained, and educated public engagement in the province’s coal consultation is necessary to ensure that coal mining does not result in long-term negative impacts on the lands, waters, and species of the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River.
Most of the focus on the issue of expansion of coal mining in the Eastern Slopes to date has been in southwestern Alberta, but Central Alberta is at significant risk as well. There are 149,060 ha of coal leases, with two open pit mine projects in the exploration and planning stages, within the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River. Both projects are in areas where open pit mining has been restricted since the introduction of the Coal Policy in 1976. Additionally, during the period when the Coal Policy was rescinded, new leases were issued immediately adjacent to Goldeye Lake, Fish Lake, and Crescent Falls, all popular recreation destinations and located within the headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River.
It is crucial that this project occurs at this time since the Government is consulting on a replacement for the 1976 Coal Policy. CPAWS Northern Alberta will will collaborate to amplify the concerns that Albertans have about the risk of open-pit coal mines in our drinking water sources. CPAWS will provide the necessary accurate information to the public and to coordinate community groups, municipalities, and our membership to engage in this issue and ensure that the health of our landscape and climate are properly considered in this process.