LETHBRIDGE, AB – The Alberta Wilderness Association says the province’s Energy Minister needs to stop coal exploration projects ahead of upcoming consultations into a modernized coal policy.

There are six explorations going on right now along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains including the Aries, Blackstone, Cabin Ridge, Chinook, Elan South and Isolation South projects.

Last month, Minister Sonya Savage said all development and lease sales of Category 2 land will be paused, but she hasn’t prohibited those projects from continuing, or applying to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) for approval.

“How can the government deliver a meaningful public consultation on whether coal mining should be allowed along the Eastern Slopes when it allows these activities to continue, when it is prepared to allow these six projects to proceed?” asks Ian Urquhart, AWA’s Conservation Director. “How can the government tell the tens of thousands of Albertans who have said categorically “no to coal” they will be consulted meaningfully when the Minister of Energy seems content to allow up to three Elk Valleys worth of strip mining to seek regulatory approval along the Eastern Slopes?”

The AWA suggests several actions that Savage should take now in order to improve public trust in the pending policy consultations.

Those include directing the AER to suspend all activity in Category 2,3 and 4 lands;  pausing further development of the previously mentioned six exploration projects; and appointing third-party experts to consider if coal mining should have a future anywhere in the Rockies or Foothills.