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Alberta announces five-member coal consultation committee, online survey

Last Updated Mar 29, 2021 at 8:36 pm MDT

EDMONTON — Alberta is asking a five-member committee to assess how people in the province feel about coal mining in the Rocky Mountains.

Energy Minister Sonya Savage says the group is to report to her by next November.

She says the committee will decide how it will gather input on whether Albertans want open-pit coal mining in the mountains and their eastern slopes.

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She says the government will also provide an online survey people can fill out.

The committee includes former bureaucrats who have worked in the environmental field, an area landowner, a small-town mayor and a member of an Indigenous band.

Savage is promising separate talks with First Nations.

Committee chairman Ron Wallace is promising what he calls a fiercely independent process.

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Wallace has served on numerous regulatory boards dealing with energy and environmental issues and has extensive experience in the private sector. He was also a permanent member of the National Energy Board.

Coal mining in the province has been intensely controversial since the United Conservative government announced last spring, without public consultation, that it had revoked a policy that had prevented surface coal mines since 1976.