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Corb Lund Uses His Voice for More Than Singing

Singer-songwriter calls for laws against coal mines in the Foothills

With the election upon us, singer-songwriter Corb Lund is using his voice for activism. Lund wants to see the provincial government enact protective legislation against coal mines.

“All candidates should be unanimous in saying they’ll enact strong legislation to protect anywhere in the Rockies from any coal mines, period,” Lund told The Canadian Press.

When the UCP revoked the “Coal Policy” in 2020, Lund was one of the most outspoken opponents of coal mining. Established in 1976, this policy governed most of western Alberta’s coal leasing, development, and exploration.

The Coal Policy has protected 1.4 million hectares for almost 50 years from surface coal mines, including our precious Foothills and the breathtaking Rocky Mountains.

“Without this (policy), we don’t really have a system in place that is enforceable and has evidence-based limits on total land disturbance from industrial operations,” Nissa Petterson with the Alberta Wilderness Association told CBC News.

Within a year after Jason Kenney’s government revoked the policy, coal companies had staked thousands of hectares for coal exploration along the province’s western boundary.

However, after public backlash, Kenney’s government reinstated the policy in February 2021. In the following month, the Coal Policy Committee was formed to develop a long-term approach to coal in collaboration with Albertans.

The result was a 45-page report that indicated that 85 percent of all Albertans were “not at all confident” that coal exploration and development are appropriately regulated.

A song featuring Corb Lund, Terri Clark, and Brett Kissel titled “This Is My Prairie” | Corb Lund YouTube

“We should have done better, and we admit we didn’t get this one right. We’re not perfect, and Albertans sure let us know that,” said then-Energy Minister Sonya Savage in a news conference.

Lund was one of many Albertans to speak out against the government’s decision to revoke the policy. Lund and fellow Alberta musicians Paul Brandt, Brett Kissel, and Terry Clark released the song “This Is My Prairie.”

While the Alberta government may have reinstated the Coal Policy, Lund believes we need legislation.

“The thing that kept the mining at bay is only policy, not legislation. Legislation is much more robust —people can’t just change it at the stroke of a pen,” Lund told The Calgary Herald.

Most Albertans agree with Lund, but not everyone. Coal mining is deeply rooted in the identity of many communities, like Crowsnest Pass.

Asking communities that historically relied on coal mines to accept change openly is hard. Significant support is needed to help these communities transition away from coal.

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