1976 Coal Policy

The exploration for and development of coal resources along the foothills and in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta is governed by a policy created in 1976: A Coal Development Policy for Alberta. This Policy classifies lands into four categories, and each category stipulates allowable exploration or development of coal. The categories set out a spectrum of land use from category 1 wherein no exploration or development will be authorized to category 4 wherein all exploration and all full development (surface and underground) would be considered and approved where appropriate. In June 2020, the Government of Alberta revoked the 1976 Coal Policy without notice or public consultation and began selling rights for coal exploration in lands where it had been prohibited by the Policy. A coalition of landowners sought judicial review, seeking to have the Alberta Court of King’s Bench quash the revocation decision.

The clinic was retained by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). As legal counsel, the Clinic advised and assisted CPAWS in applying for and obtaining intervener status in the judicial review proceedings. Clinic students worked with volunteer lawyers to conduct legal research, prepare affidavits, and draft legal arguments.

Widespread public opposition to coal mining in the Rocky Mountains and the threat of litigation convinced the Government of Alberta to reinstate the 1976 Coal Policy in February 2021. The judicial review application was withdrawn.

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