LETHBRIDGE, AB – The Alberta government won’t be getting involved politically when it comes to the proposed Grassy Mountain Coal Mine in the Crowsnest Pass.
That, this week from Environment Minister, Jason Nixon during a stop here in Lethbridge.
The opposition NDP wants Nixon to come out and publicly say the government won’t allow the project to go ahead “to put Albertans fears to rest about the project’s significant adverse environmental impacts”. The Minster though told MyLethbridgeNow.com that the province is not going to interfere in the process.
“My job is to make sure we have strong environmental policies, which we do. They were already referred to by the Energy Regulator in the decision they made a few weeks ago in regards to Grassy on saying the project could not go forward. We’ll continue to support the regulator by making strong environmental policies to protect the environment. But we won’t be overstepping with political interference. We trust the regulator to do their job,” says Nixon.
Benga Mining plans to appeal the regulator’s decision. The application was denied back in June after the Alberta Energy Regulator deemed it to not be in the public interest.
The future of coal mining has been a big issue in Alberta in recent months, especially here in southern Alberta. Many municipalities, including Lethbridge have voiced opposition to mines with concerns about potential contamination of drinking water. The Blood Tribe has recently come out say it can’t support Benga’s appeal, however the Piikani and Stony Nakoda Nations have voiced support.
Nixon says he understands there is a lot of opposition and concern around the Grassy Mountain project.
“This is why it’s important we have a strong regulatory process so they can hear from all sides that are involved,” said Nixon. “Again, the government’s job is to make sure we have strong rules.”
The Minister also told us that there are people on both sides of this issue and that’s why Alberta has a regulatory process to help make these decisions.