Take water for example. It is a scarce and precious commodity in southern Alberta, and shortages will get scarier with climate change.
The region’s water security is primarily protected by the integrity of the eastern slopes of the Rockies, which hold and filter clean water for the plains below.
And it is governed by a specific allocation order allowing water to be assigned to towns, farmers and ranchers, industry and other users.
But Australian coal miners in the Crowsnest Pass don’t have enough water for their proposed open-pit mines and have lobbied the government for help.
Benga Mining and Atrum Coal both got what they asked for.
Without public consultation (a persistent theme here), the Kenney government has put forward a plan to take up to eight billion litres from the Oldman River dam reservoir, reserves that had been set aside for drought and other environmental conditions and emergencies.
Did the Kenney government do any specific studies on the impact of coal mining on water scarcity, climate and selenium pollution in the eastern slopes before giving away this water? No.
Meanwhile southern Albertans are appalled that the government is proposing to change water allocation rules for Australian companies and undermine the existing market.
Just last week, the municipal districts of Pincher Creek and Ranchland sent off a blistering letter to their local MLA, Roger Reid, about the Kenney government’s glaring Australian bias in overriding the water allocation order.
“It is deeply troubling to see that this Order appears to be in the process of being dismantled, effectively with no consultation. What appears to be passing for consultation, is a rapid ‘drive-by’ where provincial officials appear to be merely giving notice as to what is going to happen, as opposed to seeking meaningful input from the residents and jurisdictions impacted.”
The battle to protect the water security of two million Albertans and their economies has just begun.
Excerpted from : Don’t Be Fooled: Alberta Is Still Playing the Coal Game:Reinstating the Coal Policy does little to protect the Rockies or already scarce water resources relied on by two million people.
Andrew Nikiforuk February 10| The Tyee.ca