About 1,000 Albertans have written to the Joint Review Panel that will make a recommendation to the federal minister of ECCC on whether or not to approve the proposed open pit coal mine on Grassy Mountain. 1/n @350Canada @RachelNotley @CBCCanada @JustinTrudeau @globeandmail
It is worth reading through these comments, which you can find here: iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluation… (You can also add your own comment, as a Canadian citizen.) 2/n
Many of the statements are very moving. Albertans feel very passionately about protecting this place, this land, this watershed, the trout, the pines, from the devastating effects of coal mining. 3/n
This is also Indigenous land, Treaty Seven land. William Brule writes: "As ka-tipehciket, the mountains belong to my indigenous peoples. In Treaty, the 'Depth of a plow share' we share . . . 4/n
The plow can not be used in the mountains, where the grandfather's sit and source waters to nourish my lands, my country come from. As long as the waters flow . . . 5/n

A clear No to the project.

Fiduciary responsibilities. Treaty consultation. Natural Law. Law.

Let's have tea. " 6/n
People are furious that the govt did not consult them about the revocation of the land use policy that protected the eastern slopes from mining--that it did this on the sly. 7/n
They are furious that mining leases were sold without public consultation. 8/n
And as they learn that the UCP also intends to rewrite water use regulations to permit the mines to draw more water from the Oldman watershed--again, without consultation--I predict that they are going to be pretty pissed about this, too. 9/n
Most recent insult to democratic process and the public interest? The UCP is auctioning off leases in the Milk River Natural Area to oil and gas companies--again, with no consultation. It is only thanks to the @ABWilderness that the public was alerted this week. 10/n
Most Albertans still don't know about the UCP's plans for the eastern slopes, or water use in the south of the province. And yet a Joint Review Panel appointed by the AB and federal govts has already wrapped up public hearings on the Grassy Mtn project. 11/n
I think we have to ask ourselves why it is that such momentous decisions, shaping the futures of generations to come, are routinely taken without publics being fully and fairly informed about what's in play . . . 12/n
It's not only that the UCP govt is exceptionally anti-democratic (which it is). The "consultation" processes in place are a sham. It falls to mainstream media to publicize what's going on, but what if these media fail to do so? 13/n
First Nations don't have many options, in existing "consultation" processes. They have no veto power to stop projects in their territories. All the proponent has to do is show that it met the minimal requirements to "consult" and "accommodate" concerns. 14/n
If affected FNs are struggling with high unemployment and poverty it makes sense for them to negotiate some benefits from projects, even if their first choice would be an alternative form of economic development. 15/n
Can we call this "free" consent, Canada? Truly uncoerced? If there is no alternative? If there is no right to say no? 16/n
The Impact Assessment processes don't require governments to inform their citizens about the proposed projects. It's usually non-governmental organizations that try to do this work, with their limited resources. 17/n
As we see with the Grassy Mtn coal mine consultation, hardly any Albertans even knew about the project until the hearings were already over. This is not democracy. This is a system that advantages the private interests that will profit from the projects. 18/n
Yes, the proponents have to prepare their environmental and social impact assessments. But they have the advantage here, too, because they have far greater resources to hire lawyers, scientists, and other experts to make their case, compared to the citizens' groups and NGOs. 19/n
And the terms of reference for these assessments are typically narrow in scope and privilege technical knowledge. They are not designed to inform and consult *citizens*--to ask us what we value, what kind of future we want for our children. 20/n
So it is not surprising that most Albertans are learning about the Benga mine & the line up of more mines planned for the eastern slopes only at the 11th hour of the JRP inquiry. The UCP govt had no interest in helping us find out, because it backs the proponent. 21/n
The opposition NDP has come 'round to calling for the restoration of the 1976 Coal Policy, also at the 11th hour, having been preoccupied with the UCP's mismanagement of the COVID 19 pandemic & other issues that were higher on its list of priorities. 22/n
Although, to be fair, the NDP also has limited resources, and there are so many fires to attend, with the UCP assaulting public services, ramming bills through the legislature, fragmenting our attention in 100 ways . . . 23/n
And the mainstream media? The only MSN outlet that has seriously covered this issue is CBC Alberta, but its reporters have been focussed on the COVID story, and CBC is not the main source of news for many Albertans. 24/n
That leaves environmental and indigenous activists and citizens who are directly affected by the proposed project to try to get the word out, to demonstrate that most citizens, once apprised of the issues, will oppose the strip mining of precious watersheds. 25/n
That's what they've done. But it shouldn't be down to these groups, with limited means of being heard by the broader public, to do the work of informing the public.
We need an independent body to provide information and opportunities for citizen deliberation . . . 26/n
Yes, every time a significant policy decision like whether or not to mine the eastern slopes of the Rockies arises. That would be a democratic process. 27/27
An action you can take: Sign this petition before noon on Friday the 15th of January.

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More from @LaurieAdkin

13 Jan
"Two-thirds of Canada's irrigated agriculture relies on waters from the Eastern Slopes, including the project region."
(Kevin van Tighem, landscape ecologist & conservation biologist, comment to the JRP for the Grassy Mtn coal mine project) 1/n
#WaterNotCoal @JonathanWNV
"Water is so scarce there has been a moratorium on new water licenses in the watershed since 2006." 2/n
@UAlbertaREES @UofA_EAS @ualbertaScience @usaskArtSci @WatershSentinel @battleriver @Oldmanwatershed @SouthSaskRiver @NiitsitapiWater
Van Tighem lucidly sets out reason after reason why the coal mine on Grassy Mtn should NOT be approved. Read his statement here: iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluation…
Read 6 tweets
12 Jan
Of 853 individual comments on the Benga mine currently on the Impact Assessment Agency's registry, 97.9 % express strong opposition to the Grassy Mtn strip mine. You can read them for yourself, here: iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluation…
@TheNarwhal @CBCFletch @DrewPAnderson #StoptheBengaMine
I read or scanned all of them. The authors appear to be almost exclusively Albertans, and they are fiercely opposed to the approval of any further coal mining on the eastern slopes. @GeorgeMonbiot @Martin_Lukacs @guardianeco @HMcPhersonMP #abpoli #cdnpoli
The opponents are impressively well-informed about the environmental risks and socioeconomic arguments surrounding the proposed Grassy Mountain coal mine. @ABWilderness @cpawssab @TheTyee @AlbertaViews @ABlawg @ABEnvNet @APTNNews @CBCNews
Read 9 tweets
12 Jan
From Heidi Eijgel to the JRP: "My husband and I farm in SW Alberta. We are entirely dependent on abundant fresh clean water for our lives, and for our operation . . . 1/n #StoptheBengaMine #Alberta #cdnpoli
We plan to retire here, and continue to contribute towards our community, and help the natural part of the world near us in the Rocky Mountains. We are less than an hour downstream from these coal projects . . . 2/n
Without abundant clean water, our community and our farm will have nothing. We are dependent on the natural ecosystem and watershed that our past Alberta Governments protected and this current government revoked without public consultation . . . 3/n
Read 4 tweets
12 Jan
Kate Shakespeare to the JRP:
"Water and food are essential to life and rapidly becoming unstable sources due to climate change . . . The recent pandemic has shown us how tentative global supply chains can be . . . 1/n #StoptheBengaMine
The changing of the coal policy was done without public consultation, as well as the weakening of many other environmental and land protections. Lack of transparency implies that the Alberta government suspects it would not have public support for these projects . . . 2/n
Alberta should be moving towards a sustainable future, providing jobs that are conducive with climate goals. Solar panel and wind turbine farms, even geothermal, are all greener energy sources that could provide jobs . . . 3/n
Read 6 tweets
12 Jan
On her blog, former Wildrose Party leader, Danielle Smith, claims that she is leaving radio because "the mob of political correctness thinks nothing of destroying a person’s career and reputation over some perceived slight, real or imagined." 1/n #abpoli
I can only infer what she is referring to, but her use of the Right's favourite code, "political correctness" raises some questions for me. 2/n
What does "slights" actually stand in for? This term serves to minimize the real harms inflicted on groups who are targeted by hate speech or subjected to banalized racist beliefs. 3/n
Read 8 tweets
11 Jan
@CorbLund @jannarden @kdlang We sure could use some help, here. The #UCP govt is permitting strip mining for coal on the eastern slopes of the Rockies. Benga (Riversdale) #GrassyMountain is under prov/federal review. Submissions & comments here: iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluation… 1/n
We need signatures on this petition to Minister Wilkinson before January 15th: petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/De… 2/n
The Niitsitapi Water Protectors (Blackfoot Confederacy) have a postcard campaign going to the federal minister: facebook.com/NiitsitapiWate… 3/n
Read 5 tweets

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