Ecojustice welcomes the announcements made today by federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson that effectively signal the end of thermal coal mining in Canada.
Wilkinson confirmed that all new thermal coal mine projects – or expansions to existing mines – will be required to undergo a federal impact assessment.
Simultaneously, the Minister issued a formal notice to the proponents of the Vista coal mine expansion project that he considers that it would have unacceptable effects on the environment that cannot be in the public interest. This is a clear signal that the project – which would make Vista the largest thermal coal mine in North America – will not receive the federal approval it needs to proceed.
Alan Andrews, climate program director at Ecojustice, issued the following statement in response to the Minister’s announcement:
“When your house is on fire, you don’t add more fuel to the fire. The world is in the grips of a climate emergency, and the simple fact is more thermal coal — the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel — has no place in the climate-safe future we are all fighting for.
“Today’s news sounds the death knell for thermal coal mining in Canada. It means that coal companies that want to build new mines or expand their operations — as is the case with Coalspur’s Vista mine — must pass an impact assessment and demonstrate how a project’s benefits will outweigh its inevitable environmental harms.
“In the context of the climate emergency, this will be an increasingly difficult bar to clear. In most cases, the climate math simply won’t work out.
“Ecojustice commends the federal government’s bold leadership on this issue and thanks the Minister for modelling the kind of concrete climate action Canadians expect from our political leaders.
“Mining, however, is just one part of Canada’s thermal coal problem. While Canada has brought in regulations to stop burning thermal coal for electricity in Canada by 2030, we still export millions of tonnes of Canadian and American thermal coal every year.
“Emissions from Canadian coal burned overseas hurt our shared climate. Once they are in the atmosphere, carbon emissions do not respect borders, so we look forward to the next and final step: stopping the export of Canadian and US coal overseas.
“This will further strengthen Canada’s position as a global leader in efforts to power past coal, and safeguard Canadians and our communities for generations to come.”
Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.
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