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Coal company lawsuit alleging expropriation dismissed by Alberta Appeal Court

Alberta’s top court has dismissed a coal company’s request for compensation over government policies to phase out coal power.

Altius Royalty Corp., was asking for $190 million in compensation, arguing federal and provincial moves to end such generation over climate and health concerns was a type of expropriation.

Altius, which owns the Genesee coal mine that feeds the Genesee power plant, lost in Court of King’s Bench but took its case to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

In its decision, the Appeal Court says Altius argued the regulations and agreements that led to the end of coal-fired power gave governments the benefit of lower health-care and environmental costs.

Because that benefit can be assigned a dollar figure, Altius argued that qualifies it to be compensated.

But the judges ruled those benefits accrue to the public, not the state.

“Canada’s prediction of the health and environmental benefits resulting from the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions describes benefits to the public, not an ‘advantage’ flowing to the state,” they wrote.

They found neither Canada nor Alberta received any economic benefit from the company’s property.

The court found that allowing Altius’ appeal would kneecap the government’s ability to regulate.

“Extending the concept of ‘advantage’ as the appellant suggests could have a tremendous impact on the public purse and legislative decision making,” the judges said.

“It is questionable whether the application of the common law can, or should, intrude to this extent on decisions made by legislators in the public interest.”

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