'I'm kind of pissed off': Country star Corb Lund criticizes UCP for Alberta coal mining plan
EDMONTON -- Country star Corb Lund has released a new video, but this one isn’t a guitar song. It’s him criticizing a UCP government plan to allow “mountaintop removal” for coal exploration in western Alberta.
“We’ve all seen the foothills, it’s beautiful country. So I don’t really like this,” Lund said in a video posted to social media Tuesday.
Lund said he’s been researching the issue since people started telling him about it in December.
He said he’s met with a number of people including provincial ministers, members of parliament, First Nations representatives and people who live and harvest food in the area.
“I tried to be fair about it. I know there’s always two stories, and there’s always different values to balance. But I gave it my best shot, and I took in all the information for weeks and studied it. And I got to tell you I’m kind of pissed off,” he said.
The controversy comes after Alberta rescinded a decades-old policy that protected Rocky Mountain landscapes from coal mining.
Alberta Energy gave miners until Dec. 15 to bid on nearly 2,000 hectares on the eastern slopes of the Rockies.
The United Conservative government has said it seeks to encourage increased export coal production in an effort to create jobs.
Back when it was announced, Alberta's Energy Minister said in a statement: "Rescinding the outdated coal policy will help attract new investment for an important industry, and protect jobs for Albertans."
Most Alberta coal is used for steelmaking, not power generation, and the province said any mine proposal will be subject to a review.
The new policy is being challenged in court by residents and groups opposed to development of the pristine wilderness. Concerns include the impact on wildlife and water systems.
"What are those projects going to do with respect to the quantity of water available to other users?” asked Ian Urquhart with Alberta Wilderness Association.
"And also, what are these projects going to do with respect to water quality?"
Opponents say the decision was made without proper consultation.
"There’s a lot of bad things about this but the biggest thing probably is water. Water, water, water. Contained in this huge area are the headwaters of the Oldman River, you got the North Saskatchewan, you got the Red Deer River. And that’s the drinking water folks, for a good part of the province," he said.
Lund accused the UCP of failing to consult stakeholders, and he made the video to raise awareness to Albertans and Canadians. That video has been viewed thousands of times.
"The policy seems to have been changed pretty quietly. Cause I didn't hear about it until December, until these folks told me about it," he said.
"I don’t think that's right. From what I understand, there wasn't a whole lot of consultation with the public or ranchers or farmers, or First Nations people or municipalities or anything. I don't think that's how you should govern."
Two online petitions against the coal policy have tens of thousands of signatures, and Lund is urging more people to join the fight.
"Call your MLA. Call your MP. Go meet with them. Say why are we doing this? What are the advantages to Alberta?"
The legal challenges will be heard in court next week.
With files from the Canadian Press and CTV Edmonton's Bill Fortier.