Government‘s outdated coal policy – which has been in place since 1976 – is being replaced by modern regulatory processes, integrated planning and land use policies. Repealing the policy will eliminate the use of coal categories, a land use classification system that directed how and where coal leasing, exploration and development could occur. Former Coal Category 1 lands – such as those in the eastern slopes – will continue to be protected on public lands.  

“As we strengthen our focus on economic recovery and revitalization, we will continue to make common-sense decisions to create certainty and flexibility for industry, while ensuring sensitive lands are protected for Albertans to continue to enjoy. Rescinding the outdated coal policy in favour of modern oversight will help attract new investment for an important industry and protect jobs for Albertans.”

Sonya Savage, Minister of Energy

Government is placing a strong focus on creating the necessary conditions for the growth of export coal production. This includes the export of metallurgical coal, which is a necessary component in the production of new steel.

Rescinding the coal policy – and removing the coal categories – means the industry will now be subject to the same land use policies as other commodities. It ensures that investors are not subject to outdated land use restrictions, giving them the ability to acquire rights and apply to government to conduct exploration and development activities. To uphold the province’s commitment to responsible energy development, all proposed coal projects will be submitted to the Alberta Energy Regulator and rigorously reviewed based on their merit – instead of outdated land use restrictions that were developed more than 40 years ago.

“Our government is continuing to protect our natural resources, including critical watersheds and biodiversity along the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Through this approach we are striking the balance of ensuring strong environmental protection with providing industry with incentive to increase investment.”

Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks

Developed in 1976, the coal policy included an early attempt at land use planning for resource development in Alberta, before modern regulatory processes existed. This land use classification system was the only mechanism of the original policy still in place. All existing laws and regulations relating to coal development remain in place and unchanged. The policy will be repealed effective June 1.

Quick facts

  • Government continues to move forward on the federal and provincial plan to phase out emissions from low-quality thermal coal in domestic electricity production by 2030.
  • The continued protection of former Coal Category 1 lands will not infringe on private property or freehold mineral rights.

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