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Petition closes Jan. 15 on battle against Grassy Mountain Coal Mine proposal

Posted on 12 January 2021 by Ryan Dahlman

Normally, many people don’t search for federal petitions while on social media, but the last few months, there have been thousands looking for petition e-2912 (Natural resources and energy).

With the petition endorsed by MP Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, Green Party Caucus, British Columbia), the petition reads: “We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to cancel the Grassy Mountain Coal Mine application.”

The Grassy Mountain Coal Mine’s beginning officially was in August 2016 when there was an environmental assessment application.

The petition is for Jonathon Wilkinson, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and it was initiated by Blackfalds resident Bob Ketcheson Nov. 16, 2020 and it ends Jan. 15. According to the federal government’s Impact Assessment Agency of Canada, “the Joint Review Panel intends to close the hearing on January 15, 2021 at 4:00 pm MST, pending receipt of Benga’s reply argument. New information cannot be placed on the record once the hearing is closed.

After January 15, 2021 at 4:00 pm MST, members of the public will no longer be able to submit comments for the Joint Review Panel’s consideration, either by the “Submit a comment” button on the Canadian Impact Assessment Registry for the Grassy Mountain Coal Project, or by email.”

According to the Benga Mining Ltd. Grassy Mountain Coal Project Socio-Economic Impact Assessment : “Benga Mining Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Riversdale Resources Limited, is proposing the development of the Grassy Mountain Mine (the Project), a 4.0 million tonne per annum (Mta) coal mine located in the Municipal District of Ranchland No. 66 (Ranchland) and the Specialized Municipality of Crowsnest Pass (Crowsnest Pass) approximately seven kilometres north of Blairmore in Townships 8 and 9, Ranges 3 and 4 West of 5. The Project involves a surface coal mine, a coal preparation plant and associated infrastructure including a coal conveyor system, a rail load-out facility, an access corridor, maintenance shops, environmental management systems, and other necessary facilities for the operational life of the Project.”

Ketcheson felt it was important to speak out on the project and the impact it would have on southwest Alberta as well the environment for many Albertans.

“I first learned of the coal mine proposals after doing some research into the Teck-owned mines (like Riversdale Resources, Teck is an Australian mining company) in B.C. which have caused irreparable damage to the watershed around their mines and the waters downstream. I dug into the issue to learn as much as possible and came to the understanding that it makes no sense to pursue that type of energy development in such environmentally sensitive areas,” explained Ketcheson. “It also became clear to me that the UCP government had been hard at work on this for a long time, very much in a secretive manner. Once I saw how that had progressed it was obvious that no pleas to the provincial government would make any difference. I initially looked for something anyone else may have been doing to stop the strip mines in August to September. When I discovered no one had considered a petition I decided to pursue that option myself as someone had to get the ball rolling and the sooner, the better.”

As of Jan. 10, 1 p.m., it had 6,377 validated signatures. 5,404 are from Alberta with the second highest being from B.C. (358).  Continued from Page 1

Wanting to stop the project, the petition cites five points for reasons for stoppage.

•The proposed Grassy Mountain coal mine will destroy the upstream water quality and quantity of the Crowsnest River and upstream tributaries that flow through the proposed project;

•The project will remove millions of tons of overburden which will be dumped into adjacent valleys polluting watercourses including the Oldman watershed which is the source of water for hundreds of thousands of Albertans;

•The project will create impoundment ponds which will leach selenium in high concentrations into the surrounding environment destroying existing agricultural and recreational activities for decades;

•The project will destroy tourism development and quality of life in-migration; and

•Recent and ongoing developments of clean energy sources such as hydrogen, will soon replace thermal and metallurgical coal, negating the need for destructive coal mining projects.”

He chose to petition the joint provincial – federal review panel, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Environment and Wilkinson as it seemed it could be a “very productive way” to get the message to the federal government. He has been encouraged by the results so far and was happy his efforts were worth it.

In fact the petition actually had been delayed for 30 days due to not being accepted by the first unnamed MP. He thought the 30 days lost hurt totals but he had thought as goal he would get over 2,000 signatures.

“I had browsed the usual social media channels including the subReddit r/Alberta, Face Book & Twitter and could see clearly that a lot of Albertans do not support either the recension of the Coal Development Policy, especially without consulting Albertans first, or the proposed mines,” explained Ketcheson. “I had initially hoped for at least 500 signatures as that is the minimum required to be presented to Parliament so I am indeed very happy to see it progress as well as it has. Although off to a bumpy start when the MP originally invited to sponsor it would not acknowledge or decline the petition, causing it to be delayed 30 days while undergoing that process, we were finally able to invite another MP, Elizabeth May who very quickly acknowledged and agreed to sponsor it.”

Ketcheson noted that once this petition is concluded it will be presented to Parliament and soon there may well be another protesting of strip mines proposed for the Bighorn region and other locations in the province. He had hoped the people of Alberta and Canada could “make their voices heard in Ottawa in a very meaningful way to finally stop this madness.” 

Like many in the area, he believes strip mining in the eastern slopes of the Rockies should be permitted in Alberta or B.C.

“The best way to bring the mining applications to a halt is to raise awareness among Albertans and Canadians as I suspect most do not know what’s going on or the dangers strip mining presents and how this all came about,” explains the Blackfards resident. “I need to take the effort up a notch and make sure as many people as possible know about the petition, the review panel and what they can do in response. It is probably the only way to really put the brakes on this disaster in the making. Albertans need to write to the PM, the federal Ministers, their own MP’s, MLA’s and anyone remotely associated with Ottawa to express what they feel. It is of course the squeaky wheel effect and if enough of us start squeaking, Ottawa will listen.”

Next week Bobbi Lambright of the Livingstone Landowners discusses the concerns of landowners in the area.

Fight has been ongoing including public hearings<p><span>Nearby Frank Slide measures 150 metres deep, 425 metres high and one kilometre wide.</span></p>Courtesy Alberta Energy Regulator

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