‘Unacceptable environmental effects’: New federal policy restricts thermal coal

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The federal authorities is making it tougher to develop thermal coal in Canada with a brand new coverage that claims all such mines create “unacceptable environmental effects.”

The transfer erects one other roadblock for Coalspur Mines and its Vista mine enlargement in Alberta, the one such mine in Canada presently earlier than regulators.

Federal Atmosphere Minister Jonathon Wilkinson stated the transfer was made due to the necessity to cease burning coal for energy— the one best supply of greenhouse gases on the earth.

“Phasing out thermal coal is the most critical climate change issue right now,” he stated.

The coverage, launched Friday, doesn’t rule out such improvement.

However approvals will probably be robust to get.

“The government of Canada considers that any new thermal coal mining projects, or expansions of existing thermal coal mines in Canada, are likely to cause unacceptable environmental effects,” it says. “This position will inform federal decision-making on thermal coal projects.”

It says the federal cupboard should contemplate sustainability and local weather change in weighing any new initiatives, no matter dimension.

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“What we’re saying is this is something that does not fit from a public policy perspective,” Wilkinson stated. “A proponent can continue on through the process, but that’s a pretty high bar to surmount.”

Coalspur’s Vista mine enlargement undertaking close to Hinton, Alta., which can be the most important thermal coal mine in North America, has filed an utility to the provincial regulator. Wilkinson has dominated the undertaking ought to face a federal environmental evaluation, though Coalspur is difficult that call in court docket.

The corporate has been knowledgeable the brand new coverage will apply to it, Wilkinson stated. He added the coverage offers extra certainty to different corporations contemplating related initiatives.

Wilkinson stated he believes the brand new coverage lies inside federal energy regardless of its influence on pure sources, a provincial jurisdiction.

“We’re comfortable this is something within our purview to do,” he stated. “The vast, vast, vast majority of Canadians would think that this is something that’s a no-brainer.”

Canada is a founding member of the Powering Previous Coal Alliance, a group of nations making an attempt to cut back using thermal coal round the globe. Wilkinson stated allowing new mines would hurt Canada’s efforts in that discussion board.

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“We’ve been the leader in the international community telling other countries that they should be phasing out thermal coal — and then we approve new thermal coal mines? People would say that doesn’t make any sense.”

Coverage does not have an effect on metallurgical coal

The brand new coverage doesn’t have an effect on metallurgical coal, the kind of coal present in a lot of the controversial new coal exploration initiatives within the Alberta foothills.

The federal authorities has been requested to step in on lots of these initiatives. Wilkinson has till July 1 to determine if he’ll request a federal evaluation for Montem Useful resource’s Tent Mountain mine.

Wilkinson known as emissions from steelmaking a special concern.

“[Thermal coal] is a short-term issue,” he stated.

“Our commitment with other countries is to help them phase out [coal] nine years from now. That’s not much time.”

Canada has promised to part out the burning of coal for energy by 2030.