Alberta Groups Celebrate Joint Review Panel’s Denial of the Grassy Mountain Coal Project

June 17, 2021


The federal-provincial joint review panel released its report on the Grassy Mountain Coal Project June 17th. In it they found that the adverse environmental impacts of the project would be too great to be outweighed by any potential economic benefits. From the panel’s report: “In our capacity as a panel of AER hearing commissioners, we find that the project’s significant adverse environmental effects on surface water quality and westslope cutthroat trout and habitat outweigh the low to moderate positive economic impacts of the project. Therefore, we find that the project is not in the public interest.”

The report states that based on this assessment they are denying Benga’s application under the provincial Coal Conservation Act and states that “As we are not approving the project under the Coal Conservation Act, there is no need to approve Benga’s related applications under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Water Act, and the Public Lands Act, and therefore we also deny these applications.”

The report was written after a five week long hearing that included testimony from both the project proponent Benga Mining Limited, a subsidiary of Australian company Riversdale Resources, and a number of intervenors including CPAWS Southern Alberta, the Livingstone Landowners Group who brought forward concerns and expert testimony related to environmental, economic and community concerns, recommending that the project not be approved.

The panel also concluded that the project would result in the loss of lands used for traditional activities by Indigenous peoples and that the project is likely to result in significant adverse effects to physical and cultural heritage for three Treaty 7 First Nations. First Nations on a community level have been actively speaking out against the project for months and welcome today’s announcement by the Joint Review Panel.

The panel notes that without approval of the provincial applications, the project cannot proceed and therefore there was no need to provide the federal minister with mitigation measures should the project proceed.

Katie Morrison, CPAWS Southern Alberta:

“We are overjoyed with today’s statement from the Grassy Mountain Joint Review Panel that the project application has been denied. We thank the panel members for their thorough review of the project risks and for making a strong choice in the public interest. We are happy that this decision prioritizes clean water, fish and wildlife species at risk.”

Latasha Calf Robe, Niitsitapi Water Protectors:

“We are thrilled by today’s announcement and the decision of the Joint Review Panel on the Grassy Mountain Coal Project. Projects that will have adverse effects on Niitsitapi ways of life, culture and rights should not proceed and we are grateful that the panel acknowledged the severe impacts a project such as this would have on Indigneous peoples.”

Bobbi Lambright, Livingstone Landowners Group:

“We take heart from the panel’s decision and their recognition of the significant adverse environmental consequences associated with the Grassy Mountain proposal. We have always seen Grassy Mountain as the litmus test for other coal development in the area. So this decision is a significant milestone in our ongoing fight for full, permanent protection of our headwaters.”

CPAWS is Canada’s voice for wilderness. Since 1967, the Southern Alberta Chapter has provided science-based support and advice to conserve Alberta’s parks and wild spaces. Our chapter has reached more than 150,000 Albertans with award-winning environmental education programs since 1997.

Livingstone Landowners Group represents landowners and supporters of the Livingstone-Porcupine Hills area in southwest Alberta, some of the most biodiverse and sensitive ecosystems in the province. Our mission is to promote responsible planning, use and protection of the rare and irreplaceable land and water resources.

Niitsítapi Water Protectors (NWP) is a grassroots collective of Niitsítapi water and land protectors. NWP’s mission is to protect the water and land within the traditional and treaty lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy. NWP was formed in response to the threat of coal development projects within Blackfoot traditional territory and the headwaters of the Oldman River.

For further information please contact:

Katie Morrison
CPAWS Southern Alberta 403 463 6337

Latasha Calf Robe
Niitsitapi Water Protectors 587 228 2309

Bobbi Lambright
Livingstone Landowners Group 587 228 9004


CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter: The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s voice for wilderness. We are a non-profit environmental organization working to protect half of Canada’s public land and water. Since 1967, CPAWS Southern Alberta Chapter has led conservation efforts to protect areas in Banff National Park, Kananaskis, the Whaleback and the Castle. Our chapter is also a leader in environmental education, offering award-winning programs to help build the next generation of environmental stewards. 

Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax. 

 Niitsítapi Water Protectors (NWP) is a grassroots collective of Niitsítapi water and land protectors. NWP’s mission is to protect the water and land within the traditional and treaty lands of the Blackfoot Confederacy. NWP was formed in response to the threat of coal development projects within Blackfoot traditional territory and the headwaters of the Oldman River. 

For media inquiries, please contact: 

Becky Best-Bertwistle  
CPAWS Southern Alberta

Latasha Calf Robe 
Niitsitapi Water Protectors 

Thais Freitas 
Communications specialist, Ecojustice