Coal mining conflicts cross borders

Issues with Canadian environmental law and regulations can often stem from conflicts between federal and provincial jurisdictions, especially around the need for impact assessments. But another border is often overlooked and that is with our neighbours to the South.

This transboundary conflict regarding pollution runoff between Canada and the United States is still ongoing. The precedent setting Trail Smelter case in 1938 first recognized the pollution emitting from Trail BC and causing air quality issues in the United States. Now, the US Congress is fighting selenium pollution from coal mines in British Columbia.

Alberta’s proposed coal mines would face the same kind of resistance without mitigation of selenium run off and the negative impact it has on biodiversity.

A number of committees and panels have recommended (for decades) that joint assessments be made when a large project will likely impact environment outside a state’s borders.

It is another example of where the effects are not just local, or even federal in many cases, but impact a much greater jurisdiction then we are not currently considering.

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