EDMONTON – Alberta is immediately halting exploration in the Rocky Mountains while it continues to consult the public about coal mines.
A panel struck to carry out consultations says it is responding to concerns raised by Albertans, including those who participated in an online survey.
The province says almost 25,000 Albertans participated in the survey between March 29 and April 19.
It says an initial review of the results shows many Albertans have significant concerns about coal exploration.
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Energy Minister Sonya Savage has directed coal companies to stop exploration and the companies have indicated they will co-operate.
The survey and panel were created by the United Conservative government after it faced intense resistance to its plan to dramatically expand open-pit coal mining in the province’s summits and foothills.
The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Association says halting the coal exploration is a good first step.
But they add there are still other important parts of the province that aren’t covered by the ban.
“This coal policy engagement is not just about category two lands, it’s about the entire eastern slopes,” said Conservation Director, Katie Morrison. “There are important areas for recreation, tourism, species at risk, water, in those other categories as well.”
Morrison is also sending her thanks to all those who have made their voices heard on the issue.
“This is a real kudos to Albertans for staying engaged on this issue and continuing to push the government so that we are seeing modifications and new announcements like they made today, and I think that’s really encouraging.”