The UCP government has released a new path forward in its coal policy.

Energy minister Sonya Savage says the government and the coal policy committee heard loud and clear, the eastern slopes of the Rockies are beautiful and deserve to be protected now and in the future.

"Every place in Alberta is beautiful, I was born here, I've lived my entire life in this province, and every corner of it is beautiful, but the beauty of the eastern slopes is unparalleled and Albertans have told us that," she says. "The measures we are announcing today will ensure that the eastern slopes are protected now and for future generations."

Effective immediately the government is extending the restrictions on coal exploration and development on the eastern slopes and Savage has issued a new Ministerial Order that suspends all coal related exploration and development activity in the eastern slopes, meaning no new activity will be allowed.

The order expands the current restriction on Category 2 lands to include Category 3 and 4 lands as well.

There are four mine projects that have been exempted.

The Grassy Mountain project has already been rejected by the federal government and the courts while, Savage says, Montem Resources has already talked about moving to hydraulic pumping.

It was explained that the Ministerial Order will remain in place until direction on coal activity can be embedded into updated Land Use plans, tailored to support the unique needs of the area.

The reinstated 1976 Coal Policy will remain in effect.

She thanked members of the Coal Policy Committee, including chair Ron Wallace, for their hard work gathering information and hearing from thousands of Albertans on the topic to come up with the report and its eight recommendations, all accepted in principle by the Government.

Recommendations from the committee include actions to modernize Alberta’s coal policy, strengthen Indigenous involvement in land-use planning, review coal tenure and royalty regimes, and ensure any proposed projects are rigorously assessed using net benefit tests. The committee’s reports are available online.