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e-3178 (Natural resources and energy)

E-petition
Initiated by Latasha Calf Robe from Calgary, Alberta

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Whereas:
  • It is Canada’s duty to ensure that resource exploration and development proposals meet the highest standards of consultation and involvement with Indigenous peoples in accordance with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the TRC 94 Calls to Action;
  • Alberta failed its duty to consult under section 35 by rescinding the 1976 Alberta Coal Policy (the “Policy”) on June 1, 2020, without consulting First Nations on land use decisions;
  • While Alberta’s Minister of Energy reinstated the Policy on February 8, 2021, numerous coal exploration leases remain active;
  • Coal exploration and development on land formerly protected under the Policy threatens the environment, species at risk, water quality and infringes upon Aboriginal and Treaty rights of First Nations from Treaties 6, 7 & 8;
  • The Impact Assessment process for the Grassy Mountain Coal Project (“Grassy”) does not take into consideration the cumulative impacts of new coal exploration activity and mine proposals in the region; and
  • The Joint Review Panel of the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada (the “Agency”) will submit their report regarding Grassy to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in June 2021.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to:
1. Instruct the Agency to conduct a Regional Assessment of the impacts of all proposed coal developments and exploratory activity in Southwest Alberta on Treaty and Aboriginal rights, water quality, species at risk and the environment; and
2. Delay a decision regarding Grassy until the cumulative impacts of all mining activity in the region have been adequately considered.

Response by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable JONATHAN WILKINSON

The proposed Grassy Mountain Coal Project (the Project) is currently undergoing a rigorous environmental assessment (EA) by an independent Joint Review Panel (the Panel), which was established between the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada and the Alberta Energy Regulator in 2018. The EA is ensuring a thorough and transparent review of the Project based on science and traditional knowledge, meeting the high standards that Canadians have come to expect of a federal EA.

As part of its review, the Panel is required to consider the potential direct and cumulative environmental effects of the Project including effects on water quality and quantity, and socio-economic interests. The cumulative effects assessment considers the predicted effects of the Project in combination with the potential effects from projects that have been or will be carried out as of the issuance of the Joint Review Panel’s Terms of Reference.

The Panel is also considering the potential effects of the Project on the current use of lands and resources for traditional purposes, intangible cultural and spiritual values, physical and cultural heritage, and potential impacts to rights of Indigenous peoples. On behalf of the federal government, the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is actively leading consultations on the Project with potentially affected Indigenous groups. The Government will ensure that this consultation informs the decision-making process before determining whether the Project can proceed.

A public hearing for the Project began on October 27, 2020, and concluded on December 2, 2020. The public hearing provided an opportunity for the Panel to hear directly from numerous interested parties and Indigenous groups, which will help inform the EA.

On January 15, 2021, the Panel closed the record of the review. The Panel is now preparing to submit its report to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change by June 18, 2021. The report will contain the Panel’s conclusions and recommendations regarding the Project. After taking into consideration the Panel’s report, the Minister will determine whether the Project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects. Should the Minister decide that the Project is likely to cause significant adverse effects, a decision regarding whether those effects can be justified in the circumstances will be required by the Governor in Council.

The Government is committed to a federal assessment process that is robust, based on science and Indigenous knowledge, protects our rich natural environment, respects the rights of Indigenous peoples, and supports our natural resources sector. Any future coal development projects proposed in the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains that meet the thresholds described in the Physical Activities Regulations will be subject to an impact assessment under the Impact Assessment Act (IAA). Any projects allowed to proceed would continue to be subject to all applicable provincial and federal regulations. Coal mining projects not subject to the IAA may still require assessment under provincial legislation.

The Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is considering the petition a formal request for a regional assessment under subsection 97(1) of the IAA, and has commenced a review and analysis of it to inform the decision on whether or not to conduct such a regional assessment. The information contained in this petition as well as other information gathered by the Agency in its engagement on the request will be considered in making a decision on the merits of carrying out a regional assessment by June 18, 2021.

 

 

Open for signature
February 11, 2021, at 7:39 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 13, 2021, at 7:39 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Heather McPherson (Edmonton Strathcona)
March 22, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00681)
Government response tabled
May 5, 2021
Photo - Heather McPherson
Edmonton Strathcona
New Democratic Party Caucus
Alberta
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