Alberta Organizations Call for Regional Assessment of Metallurgical Coal Mining

Groups are asking the Federal Government to assess metallurgical coal mining’s impacts on water, species at risk, and Treaty and Aboriginal rights


A coalition of  Alberta organizations have asked Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson to order a regional assessment on metallurgical coal mining in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. On May 28, Ecojustice filed a submission to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (“IAAC”) on behalf of CPAWS Southern Alberta chapter, Livingstone Landowners Group, and Niitsitapi Water Protectors. The request for a regional assessment was initiated by a federal petition tabled in March 2021. The petition garnered over 18,000 signatures. 
Regional assessments (as defined by the Impact Assessment Act) are studies conducted in areas of existing projects or anticipated development to inform planning and management of cumulative effects. They allow the Federal Government to go beyond project-focused impact assessments to understand the regional context and provide more comprehensive analyses to help inform future impact assessment decisions.  

The groups are asking the IAAC to recommend to the Minister of Environment that he order a regional assessment of the cumulative impacts of metallurgical coal mining in the region on the following areas under federal jurisdiction: fish and fish habitat, species at risk, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, Treaty and Aboriginal rights, and transboundary impacts. The submission also requests that the regional assessment analyze the future global market for metallurgic coal.   

Representatives from the groups released the following statements: 

Becky Best-Bertwistle, Conservation Engagement Coordinator at CPAWS Southern Alberta: 

 “When projects are evaluated individually, many cumulative impacts on landscape, climate and wildlife are missed. The impacts on these areas become overwhelming over time.”  

“The new tool of regional assessments can provide important insights for both federal and provincial regulators on various development scenarios, from no new coal mines to maximum potential build out.”   

Latasha Calf Robe, Co-Lead, Niitsitapi Water Protectors: 

“A regional assessment is critical to understand the current and potential cumulative impacts of metallurgical coal exploration and development on constitutionally protected Aboriginal and Treaty Rights. The Alberta government and Alberta Energy Regulator have clearly failed to manage the impacts in this area.The federal government has an obligation to First Nations to step in and evaluate the illegal extinguishment of these rights.” 

 “Coal activity is limiting the ability of First Nations and Indigenous peoples’ practice of rights, culture and ways of life.” 

Bobbi Lambright, spokesperson from Livingstone Landowners Group: 

“The province has already seen serious impacts to both wildlife and water in areas downstream and adjacent to coal developments in west-central Alberta. And in the Elk Valley in British Columbia, we have clearly seen the failure of individual project-by-project assessments and the dire consequences for species at risk and water.” 

David Khan, lawyer at Ecojustice: 

“Expanded metallurgical coal mining across the region needs closer investigation from the federal government. The public has already demonstrated widespread interest in this project, and we hope that the federal government takes note.” 


CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter: The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s voice for wilderness. We are a non-profit environmental organization working to protect half of Canada’s public land and water. Since 1967, CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter has led conservation efforts to protect areas in Banff National Park, Kananaskis, the Whaleback and the Castle. Our chapter is also a leader in environmental education, offering award-winning programs to help build the next generation of environmental stewards. 

Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax. 

Livingstone Landowners Group represents landowners and supporters of the Livingstone-Porcupine Hills area in southwest Alberta, some of the most biodiverse and sensitive ecosystems in the province. Our mission is to promote responsible planning, use and protection of the rare and irreplaceable land and water resources. 

 Niitsítapi Water Protectors (NWP) is a grassroots collective of Niitsítapi water and land protectors. NWP’s mission is to protect the water and land within the traditional and treaty lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy. NWP was formed in response to the threat of coal development projects within Blackfoot traditional territory and the headwaters of the Oldman River. 

For media inquiries, please contact: 

Becky Best-Bertwistle  
CPAWS Southern Alberta
[email protected]

Latasha Calf Robe 
Niitsitapi Water Protectors  
[email protected] 

Thais Freitas 
Communications specialist, Ecojustice 
[email protected] 

Bobbi Lambright  
Livingstone Landowners Group  
[email protected]