HIGH RIVER (660 NEWS) — The town of High River is adding its name to the number of communities and people opposed to the provincial government’s decision to rescind the 1976 Coal Policy Act.
Town council voted unanimously to ask Premier Jason Kenney to reinstate the act that would protect the Eastern Slopes from open-pit coal mining.
High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass says there are two big pieces of Class 2 land, west of High River, that would be exposed to open-pit coal mining and cause problems for the town’s water.
“We know that water treatment plants if you get so many contaminations in there — we know from the experience they’ve had in Sparwood — that it’s very difficult to get out of the water once it gets in,” Snodgrass said.
He says now is the time to speak up and ask the government to reinstate the policy.
“It might be a decade out before there’s actual activity going on in there, but I’m not waiting for that. I’m not waiting for Mr. Peabody’s coal train to show before we start to pound the table that this is wrong,” he added.
“People are saying, ‘Well this issue isn’t in your boundaries Craig, so you should keep your mouth shut.’ Well, that’s not how I roll, it’s not how my integrity rolls that when we see something that’s wrong, we start asking questions and we want answers and we’ll hold people accountable for it.”
Snodgrass says that regardless of your political stripes, Albertans are upset that the government did not get public consultation because it knew it wouldn’t get support and Kenney was only looking out for the coal industry.
“Somebody, as seasoned as Jason Kenney is with government, this was an enormous amount of disrespect for every Albertan to do it like this,” Snodgrass said.
The Grassy Mountain Coal Project which is on the table right now will need to get final approval from the federal government which Snodgrass says likely won’t favour Kenney.
“Knowing the relationship between the prime minister and our premier, and the comments that have been made in the public on both sides. Here we are. And I’m really curious to see who the hero is that’s going to come out of this,” he added as this will be a defining moment in Alberta and Canadian energy and politics.
660 NEWS has reached out to the energy minister for comment on why the government decided to rescind the policy, but have not heard back.