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EDMONTON — Alberta’s new energy minister says that for now, he will maintain an order protecting the Rocky Mountains from coal development.

But Peter Guthrie says his department is already working on a program to give oil companies royalty breaks to clean up old wells. 

Speaking at an Edmonton press conference on funding for a hydrogen project, Guthrie confirmed he has no plans to withdraw the order — although he wouldn’t say how long it will remain.

The order from the previous minister, Sonya Savage, restored protections for the Rockies from open-pit coal mines after a number of such developments were proposed.

New Premier Danielle Smith has mused about reopening the debate over the mines.

At the same press conference, Guthrie confirmed his department is studying an industry proposal that would use royalty breaks on new production to encourage well cleanup.

That proposal has been widely panned by energy economists and was rebuffed under Savage’s tenure as a violation of the principle that polluters should pay to clean up their own mess. 

 This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2022.

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