Canada's NDP


March 22nd, 2021

NDP MP moves to require federal assessment of every coal mine

Legislation, tabled by Alberta NDP MP Heather McPherson, would ensure all coal projects undergo federal impact assessment prior to approval

Today, NDP MP Heather McPherson (Edmonton Strathcona) tabled legislation to ensure that all coal mine projects be required to undergo both provincial and federal impact assessment prior to approval. Currently, projects with output of less than 5000t/day do not require federal assessment.

Given the clear failure of the United Conservative provincial government to provide adequate environmental stewardship, McPherson is calling for increased federal oversight, ensuring all coal mine projects, regardless of size or location, would be assessed through a joint provincial and federal review.

“As a sunsetting industry, coal exploration and mine development has limited potential to provide economic benefit or long-term employment for Albertans, but has significant legacy costs including disastrous effects on wildlife habitat, negative impacts on industries like farming, ranching, and tourism, and irreparable damage to Alberta’s fragile water resources,” said McPherson. “New coal exploration and mining in the Alberta Rockies will create myriad environmental problems including the leaching of selenium and other pollutants into watersheds and the diversion of water in an area that is already experiencing scarcity.”

McPherson’s motion comes the same day she presented a national petition calling on the federal Minister to conduct a Regional Assessment of the impacts of all proposed coal developments and to delay a decision regarding the proposed Grassy Mountain coal project in the Crowsnest Pass area until the cumulative impacts of all mining activity in the region have been adequately considered. The petition was authored by Niitsitapi activist Latasha Calf Robe and was signed by more than 18,000 Canadians, including more than 15,000 Albertans.

“Albertans need the federal government to stand up to Jason Kenney and stop him from destroying our mountains, our water, our wildlife, and our land for generations to come,” McPherson added. “The federal government has a responsibility to ensure Indigenous consultation and to protect species at risk and watersheds from coal development.”

Text of the Motion:

That the House recognize that:
  1. Canadians cherish our Rocky Mountains and do not want to see the natural landscape and water quality diminished or destroyed by the introduction or continuation of destructive coal mining, coal exploration, or expansion of previous coal mining operations,
  2. coal mining is a sunsetting industry with limited potential to provide economic benefit or long-term employment, but has significant legacy costs to Canadians,
  3. coal exploration and development threaten vital fish and wildlife habitat and further endangers species at risk,
  4. the Federal government has an important role to play to ensure resource exploration and development proposals meet the highest standards of consultation and involvement with Indigenous peoples in accordance with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the TRC 94 Calls to Action,
  5. the failure of the Alberta government to provide adequately environmental stewardship,
and that, in the opinion of the House, the government should amend the Impact Assessment Act as well as all other regulations in place to require that any coal mine expansion be subject to an environmental impact assessment.