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NDP worries UCP government reducing independence of Alberta Energy Regulator

Alberta’s New Democrat Opposition says the province’s energy minister is undermining the independence of its supposedly arm’s-length energy regulator and telling it what to do.

Nagwan Al-Guneid says Brian Jean shouldn’t have written a letter to the Alberta Energy Regulator suggesting it accept three coal exploration applications despite a government order that’s supposed to ban all such development in the province’s Rocky Mountains.

Click to play video: 'Advanced application’ for Rocky Mountain coal mine stirs controversy'

Advanced application’ for Rocky Mountain coal mine stirs controversy

The letter is now the subject of legal action before Alberta’s top court, with a municipal district challenging the minister’s attempt to tell the regulator how it should rule.

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Al-Guneid says Jean should be trying to making the regulator more credible and dealing with Alberta’s thousands of abandoned wells and other liabilities.

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Ron Davis, Reeve of the Municipal District of Ranchland, calls Jean’s letter political interference in what should be a reasoned, fact-based decision.

Northback Holdings is hoping to build an open-pit coal mine in the southwest corner of the province’s Rocky Mountains, a project that has already been turned down by both provincial and federal environmental reviews.

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