Issue Briefs

Canada and Alberta reach agreement on woodland caribou conservation and recovery

On October 23, the governments of Canada and Alberta announced that they had reached an agreement for the conservation and recovery of Woodland Caribou in Alberta. The agreement follows years of pressure from First Nations and environmental groups including a 2019 lawsuit calling on the courts to compel the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to recommend a safety net order to protect boreal caribou habitat. While recognizing the agreement as a necessary first step, environmental organizations remain concerned, particularly that the timelines contained within the agreement are not fast enough to protect threatened herds.

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Grassy Mountain Coal Project

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Mountains near Blairmore, Alberta

Crowsnest Pass mountains from Blairmore

Updated: Novemer 11, 2020

Public hearings for Benga Mining Ltd.'s proposed Grassy Mountain Coal Project in the Crowsnest Pass got underway on October 27. The hearings, which will be held online and are expected to go until Dec. 2, are the next step in the federal impact assessment. The proposed project includes the construction and operation of an open-pit metallurgical coal mine near Blairmore. Construction is expected to take up to two years, and operation will last up to 25 years.

The list of hearing participants includes AEN member groups, the Alberta Wilderness AssociationCPAWS Southern Alberta, and the Alberta Chapter of The WildlifeSociety.

Grassy Mountain is the first of at least six mountain-top removal coal mines proposed by large Australian mining companies in various stages of regulatory approval in the region. There are more than 50,000 ha of the Old Man River headwaters under lease for future mountain-top removal mining.

Ongoing coverage of the hearings

  • Read the Alberta Wilderness Association's Grassy Mountain blog.
  • Watch the hearing live, or view archived recordings of previous days on YouTube.
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Herd of caribou in Jasper National Park declared extirpated

A herd of caribou in Jasper National Park – the Maligne herd – is now considered locally extinct. Two other caribou herds in the region may be on the same path to extirpation because they don’t have enough breeding females to grow the herds.

AEN member groups are calling for immediate action to halt the decline of caribou populations in the remaining herds. Read more about Herd of caribou in Jasper National Park declared extirpated

Supreme Court hears appeals on Canada's carbon pricing law

On September 22 and 23, the Supreme Court of Canada heard appeals in three separate cases regarding the consitutionality of the federal government's carbon pricing system. Appeals courts in Saskatchewan and Ontario had previously upheld the law, while the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled that the law was unconstitutional. Read more about Supreme Court hears appeals on Canada's carbon pricing law

Issue Brief: Green Stimulus & a Just Recovery

The global COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated an economic downturn that has governments across Canada and around the world set to make huge investments in stimulus and recovery spending. Many are viewing this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in a just and sustainable green economy. Read more about Issue Brief: Green Stimulus & a Just Recovery

Issue Brief: Closing and delisting Alberta parks

Updated: September 21, 2020

The province is planning to close 20 parks sites and delist another 164 sites, although the timing is still uncertain. Internal government documents show there was no analysis of costs, public were excluded from consultation and land sales have been considered. Despite a government announcement of investments in Alberta parks infrastructure, the government indicated its intention to move forward with the previously-announced closures.

Latest updates

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Issue Brief: Oil Sands Monitoring

Updated: September 10, 2020
The budget for the joint provincial-federal Oil Sands Monitoring Program will be reduced by around 25% this year, citing less field work due to the COVID-19 outbreak. AEN members discussed the budget reduction on a call on August 26 and are seeking clarification from the Oil Sands Monitoring Program. Read more about Issue Brief: Oil Sands Monitoring

Issue Brief: Vista coal mine expansion

Updated: September 3, 2020

The Coalspur Vista mine is one of the largest thermal coal mines in Canada, and the proposed expansion could almost triple its capacity. Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson declined in December 2019 to order a federal impact assessment, but he reversed this decision on July 30 so the project will undergo a federal impact assessment. Coalspur Mines has launched a legal challenge to the Minister's decision.

Latest updates

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Issue Brief: Rescinding the Alberta Coal Policy

The Alberta government rescinded the 1976 Coal Policy on June 1, saying the policy was no longer relevant due to regulatory changes and new approaches in land use planning since the 1970s. However, gaps in land use plans (particularly in the eastern slopes region) may leave sensitive regions open to coal development. Read more about Issue Brief: Rescinding the Alberta Coal Policy

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