Changes to Alberta coal policy coming next week after province-wide outrage

The Alberta government plans to release news next week to restore at least some aspects of a coal policy it revoked last spring, a move that has provoked provincewide protest.

Government spokesman Kavi Bal said in an email that some of the restrictions in the old policy that protected the Rocky Mountains from coal mining will be restored.

Read more: Mining companies knew about coal policy removal long before Albertans

Specifics are still being worked out, Bal said.

A number of communities in Alberta have expressed their concerns with the plans to attempt to expand coal mining.

On Monday, Turner Valley approved a letter asking the province to issue a stop-work order on coal exploration and to restore previous protection on the eastern slopes.

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Click to play video 'Elk Valley property owner speaks out about coal mining' Elk Valley property owner speaks out about coal mining

Elk Valley property owner speaks out about coal mining

Canmore passed a similar motion the next day.

At least eight communities are upset with the government’s decision, including the city of Lethbridge.

The towns of High River and Nanton and the counties of Ranchlands and Foothills have all expressed concerns. The City of Calgary has planned debate on the issue.

Read more: ‘It’s sickening’: Future generation worried about inheriting legacy of coal mining

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan’s Opposition New Democrats are expressing concern over their western neighbour’s goal to expand coal mining.

Environment critic Erika Ritchie says increased development could contaminate water in the South Saskatchewan River which flows through the province.

Click to play video 'Environmental groups warn Alberta about Elk valley coal mine contamination' Environmental groups warn Alberta about Elk valley coal mine contamination

Environmental groups warn Alberta about Elk valley coal mine contamination

The government policy that protected the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains was revoked last spring without warning. Since then, hundreds of thousands of hectares have been leased for exploration. Kilometres of roads and hundreds of drill sites have also been approved.

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– With files from the Canadian Press

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