CALGARY — Longtime southern Alberta landowner Bobbi Lambright says she isn't about to let emotion colour her concerns about coal mining activities on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

She was at a news conference in Calgary Monday as Alberta's opposition NDP announced plans to introduce a private member's bill that would ban future coal mining and related activities in the region.

"This is not just an emotional reaction on the part of people who love the beautiful mountains," said Lambright, who's also a member of the Livingstone Landowners Group.

"You also recognize very quickly when you go in and start to blast literally tens of thousands of acres of mountains and deposit waste rock in the valleys you are opening the door to a level of destruction and disruption that is unprecedented."

The proposed legislation comes as Alberta's United Conservative government is to hold public consultations at the end of this month on expanding coal mining in the area.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley says, if passed, the bill would also permanently cancel all coal leases on so-called Category 1 and 2 lands and stop planned changes to water allocations in the area.

Public consultations are scheduled to begin March 29, but so far no details have been released.

"The minister has not released the details around what will be included around her hastily announced consultations. But she did make it clear ... that the goal of the consultations will be to develop a coal mining policy, not to protect our mountains," Notley said.

The fact that no guidelines have been released has Notley wondering if it's just a public relations exercise.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley says, if passed, the bill would permanently cancel all coal leases on so-called Category 1 and 2 lands and stop planned changes to water allocations in the area. #ableg

"Even if they are doing consultations we don't know if they won't continue to have backroom deals and backroom meetings with coal lobbyists that still ultimately end with the same outcome," Notley added.

Lambright said her group has ideas of what should be included such as taking a land-use focus and taking into account independent third-party information.

She said the landowners group intends to take part in the consultations but would like some guidance.

"We are not aware of any of the details of how the consultations will unfold," Lambright said.

The UCP revoked last spring a 1976 policy that had protected the Rockies and their eastern slopes from open-pit coal mines.

Opposition built and spread until it included small-town mayors, First Nations, popular entertainment figures and a broad spectrum of Albertans.

The government reinstated the policy last month and promised there would be public input on coal-mining and no more leases on the most vulnerable land would be sold.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2021.

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Too bad this NDP Pretender doesn't propose the same ban on the tar sands, fracking, etc., etc.!!!

On the face of it, this is a good move by Notley. But it will likely be quickly defeated by the UCP majority, unless their southwestern Alberta MLAs actually listen to their constituents and vote against their leader and his cabinet. It's a good sign when constituents in conservative ridings place so much importance on the beautiful landscapes of the Alberta foothills, a landscape I grew up with and love.

But when Notley opens her mouth on climate change and carbon, I'll always remember her arrogance and condescension toward the city of Burnaby where the Trans Mountain pipeline terminates, and the BC premier who was rightly opposed to its needless expansion and the threat to the coast that expansion poses.

It's interesting to follow the money. Campaign donations are comically easy to pin to Alberta's reputation of having the fossil fuel industry write government policy on royalties, environmental protection and industry regulation. Most pro-oil business pundits concentrate on the price of Western Canadian Select and the Brent world price, and their industry praise waxes in chorus with it. However, the truest financial indicator is investment in the industry, which is actually fleeing in droves and coalescing around renewables while international policy is heading strongly toward drastically cutting emissions before this decade is through.

Sunset industry, indeed.

Some pundits will moan about the need to mine metallurgical coal because steel is so vital to our society. All the more reason to develop alternatives to coke for steel making, such as electrolysis using renewable electricity or even hydrogen. Low emission steel is entirely possible in lab conditions (look up Boston Metal), and is an ideal candidate for R&D and commercialization in Alberta as part of a bold initiative to diversify their economy. In all likelihood, China, the US or the EU will beat Canada to introduce such vital products to the world. It's the Canadian way, especially when federal leaders are persuaded by powerful carbon-based interests to continue with the status quo of subsidies, bailouts and socialized losses and environmental costs.

Too bad neither leader of the two major political parties in Alberta (let alone federal leaders) seem capable of having a good think about recalibrating their industrial strategy for the 21st Century.