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Coal production has adverse impacts on both land and water ecosystems.

On land, habitat destruction and fragmentation are major concerns for the AWA. Mining completely eradicates the existing vegetation, alters soil composition, and displaces fauna which can result in permanently scarred landscapes. Large sites cleared for open-pit mines and the associated infrastructure can change the entire topography of the area. Designation of land for coal leases should avoid areas of concern that include crucial habitat for threatened species and key migratory routes for large ungulates. Wetlands, aquifers, and surface waters are also negatively affected by coal mining and coal-fired power plants. Wetlands are destroyed in site areas, significant amounts of freshwater are used for commercial cooling and tailings leach out harmful pollutants into watersheds.  Coal companies should be held accountable for initial ecological assessments, remediation plans and reclamation efforts to mitigate environmental damage.

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    AWA mandates the protection and perpetuation of intact wild areas around the province, free of industrial processes.  We believe any of these areas of environmental significance including habitats of endangered species, should have strict prohibitions against coal exploration, development and use.  In working landscape regions where economic development already exists, coal needs to be produced using an environmentally responsible approach.

    Coal production has adverse impacts on both land and water ecosystems. On land, habitat destruction and fragmentation are major concerns for the AWA. Mining completely eradicates the existing vegetation, alters soil composition, and displaces fauna which can result in permanently scarred landscapes. Large sites cleared for open-pit mines and the associated infrastructure can change the entire topography of the area. Designation of land for coal leases should avoid areas of concern that include crucial habitat for threatened species and key migratory routes for large ungulates.

    Wetlands, aquifers, and surface waters are also negatively affected by coal mining and coal-fired power plants. Wetlands are destroyed in site areas as significant amounts of freshwater are used for commercial cooling and tailing leach out harmful pollutants into watersheds.  Coal companies should be held accountable for initial ecological assessments, remediation plans and reclamation efforts to mitigate environmental damage.
    coal2
    Coal-fired power plants generate the majority of electricity in Alberta. AWA believes that we need to start moving away from such environmentally destructive methods of power generation. Given that coal-fired power plants significantly contribute to Alberta’s large greenhouse gas emissions, these plants play a vital role in determining whether Canada meets its federal and international commitments on climate change. The provincial government needs to apply more stringent emission regulations to existing and new power plants to uphold these obligations.

    Since 1976, coal mining in Alberta has been regulated by the province’s Coal Policy which includes land categorization that determines restrictions on coal exploration and extraction. Any updates to this policy need to enhance its intent and environmental focus. For any new coal developments, AWA supports extensive consultation with all stakeholders and any concerned parties.

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     Due to the large amounts of metallurgical (coking) coal reserves along the Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains, this is a major area of concern for the AWA and special regulations in this area are needed to protect the existing wildlife, important headwaters, and critical habitat. Cumulative effects management needs to be an integral part of planning for future land use frameworks. The Alberta government should recognize the far-reaching and resonating impacts of coal production on already strained ecosystems.

    General

    Coal Activity, acquired in 2016 and produced by the Government of Alberta shows coal leases, coal lease applications, and mineral ownership across the province.

    Coal Mines and Power Plants, last updated in October 2014, shows active extraction and burning sites across the province.

    Obed Mountain

    Surface Water Sample Locations was released in December 2013 and shows all the places downstream of the mine permit location where surface water was sampled along the Athabasca River.

    Clearwater County

    Clearwater Coal Development Nodes delineates the category two area, as determined in the Alberta Coal Policy, from the Clearwater County Land Ownership Map.

    August 23, 2017

    Obed Mountain Mine Spill FOIP

    On August 23, 2017, Ecojustice, on behalf of the Alberta Wilderness Association, obtained information from…

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    June 13, 2017

    News Release: Obed Mine Sentencing

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    June 1, 2017

    Update: Regulating coal mine runoff

    June 2017 Wildlands Advocate article, by Nick Pink Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is developing a…

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