Tag Archives: coal mining

B.C. coal mining pollutants increase in Montana watershed

In case anyone wonders why it was so important to oppose resource extraction activities in the transboundary Flathead watershed, just take a look at events in the nearby Elk River drainage . . .

With renewed plans to expand coal-mining operations in southeastern British Columbia’s Elk River drainage, located upstream from one of Montana’s world-class transboundary watersheds, researchers and government agencies are intensifying scrutiny on environmental hazards spanning the border.

The concerns center on increasing amounts of coal waste byproducts leaching into the heavily mined Elk River and its many tributaries, which drain into two bodies of water shared by B.C. and Montana – Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River – both of which are showing increased levels of mining contaminants like selenium in the muscle tissue of fish species.

Read more . . .

Canada to exclude Flathead Valley from planned sale of dominion coal blocks

According to our friends north of the border, the Canadian federal government will not be making lands available for coal development within their section of the trans-boundary Flathead River Valley . . .

Flathead Wild, a coalition of conservation groups dedicated to protecting the Flathead Valley in the East Kootenay, welcomes the federal government’s announcement that it will exempt portions of the Dominion Coal Blocks within the Flathead Valley from a planned sale of federal lands. At the same time, the groups remain concerned that inappropriate development of the coal blocks adjacent to the Valley could jeopardize water quality and wildlife populations.

“While details around the planned sale are not yet clear, we are encouraged that the Federal Government has confirmed that portions of the coal blocks overlapping with the Flathead River Watershed will not be included in the sale, and that discussions with the Province are under way to ensure the protection of the entire watershed from development” said John Bergenske, Wildsight.

Read more . . .

Transboundary Flathead still open to coal mining

Just when you think you can put your feet up and relax. The Flathead Campaign reports that the mining ban passed by British Columbia last year protecting the Canadian Flathead from development has a loophole. There are some federal coal blocks technically unaffected by this provincial legislation. The biggest sits right at the headwaters of the whole transboundary Flathead drainage.

Here’s the lead-in. Read the full article for details, including a map of the areas affected . . .

B.C.’s Flathead River Valley is still open to mountain top removal coal mining and coalbed methane development because a federal coal block is not included in a provincial ban on energy and mining development, conservation groups warned today.

“The Flathead is not protected from open pit coal mining after all,” said Wildsight Executive Director John Bergenske. “We’re calling on the federal government to make an immediate public commitment to join the ban on Flathead mining and energy development.”

The B.C. mining ban, legislated one year ago in November 2011, has no legal effect over 6,290 hectares of federally owned Dominion Coal Blocks in the headwaters of the Flathead River Valley which are being considered for development.

Continue reading . . .

Cline sues B.C. over Canadian Flathead mining ban

As mentioned last Wednesday, Cline Mining, the outfit that planned an open pit coal mine in the North Fork headwaters area up in Canada, sued British Columbia over its decision a couple of years ago to ban mining and other extractive industries in the Canadian Flathead. The story has since gotten quite a bit of coverage on both sides of the border. One of the better follow-up articles was just posted by the Missoulian . . .

The decades-long dispute over a proposed mining ban on the northern edge of Glacier National Park flared up this week when a Canadian mining company filed a lawsuit against the Province of British Columbia seeking $500 million in compensation for lost revenue.

In the lawsuit, Cline Mining Corp. alleges that the government of B.C. expropriated three coal properties in the Canadian Flathead Valley by passing the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act, a recent piece of legislation that halted mining on all lands within the Flathead River watershed.

Cline lost its coal claims in the Flathead Valley in southeast B.C. when former Premier Gordon Campbell signed the Flathead Watershed Area Memorandum of Understanding with Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, reversing a longstanding land use plan for the Canadian Flathead that gave drilling and mining primacy over all other uses.

Continue reading . . .

Cline Mining sues BC for $500 million due to lost mining claims in Flathead Valley

Well, now, look who’s in the news again.

Cline Mining, the outfit that wanted to put an open pit coal mine in the North Fork headwaters area up in Canada, is suing the British Columbia government for losses incurred when the province passed the Flathead Watershed Area Conservation Act.

Read the full article. There are a number of interesting nuggets buried in the later paragraphs . . .

Cline Mining has filed a $500-million lawsuit against the British Columbia government after losing a series of mining claims in the Flathead Valley in southeast B.C.

Cline’s action comes 27 months after the province yielded to pressure from environmentalists and the U.S. government to halt mining activity on the Canadian side of the environmentally sensitive Flathead, which is within Glacier National Park in Montana. The north fork of the Flathead, which has its headwaters in B.C., is part of the U.S. “wild and scenic rivers system” once it crosses from the East Kootenays into Montana.

Continue reading . . .

Commentary: North Fork deal is a winner

The Daily Inter Lake has nice things to say today about the recently concluded deal to protect the Flathead drainage . . .

It’s hard to overstate the significance of the recently announced commitment of the Nature Conservancy to provide about $9.4 million to seal a deal between Montana and British Columbia that will prevent mining in the Canadian headwaters of the Flathead River Basin.

It’s even harder to overstate what a sweet deal it is. Montana businesses, conservation groups and political leaders have been battling mining proposals in the British Columbia Flathead drainage for the last 30 years, never really knowing when the next battle would come.

Now, because of a memorandum of understanding between the province and the state that was announced a year ago, there is a prohibition on mining in the remote and pristine drainage that feeds Montana’s North Fork Flathead River.

Continue reading . . .

Canadian coverage: Conservation groups put up $9.4-million to save Flathead Valley

Not surprisingly, the Canadian press has also been covering the commitment by The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide funds to retire oil and gas leases in the Canadian Flathead. The Globe and Mail posted an excellent article, including links to related stories and even a photo gallery . . .

Two environmental groups are putting up $9.4-million to help the governments of British Columbia and Montana follow through on an agreement to save the pristine Flathead River Valley in southeastern British Columbia.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the U.S. Nature Conservancy are contributing the money to cover costs related to a 2010 agreement between the province and the state. The Flathead is known as the Serengeti of the North for its abundant natural areas, which are home to 16 species of carnivore.

Continue reading . . .

Agreement to protect North Fork of Flathead from gold and coal mining finalized in D.C.

Monday, Gov. Schweitzer announced in Kalispell the commitment by The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide funds to retire oil and gas leases in the Canadian Flathead. Tuesday, in Washington D.C., the whole package was wrapped up and a ribbon tied around it when Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer announced that the Canadian government plans legislation to permanently protect the area.

The Missoulian posted excellent coverage . . .

The deal to protect the North Fork of the Flathead from mining and energy exploration got final approval on Tuesday at a gathering in Washington, D.C., with Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester and Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer.

In addition to confirming that The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy of Canada will contribute $9.4 million to reimburse mining company expenses, the gathering also announced plans for Canadian legislation to permanently protect the area.

Continue reading . . .

Gov. Schweitzer announces, praises deal to reimburse mining companies for North Fork protection

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer made the formal announcement in Kalispell yesterday of the commitment by The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide funds to retire oil and gas leases in the Canadian Flathead.

Both the Flathead Beacon and the Daily Inter Lake covered the presentation in some detail . . .

Flathead Beacon: Nature Conservancy to Reimburse Mining Companies for North Fork Protection

Mining companies with operations in the Canadian portions of the Flathead River Basin will be compensated for their investments by two conservation groups to protect the area around Glacier National Park, according to Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, who made the announcement in Kalispell Monday. The payment will seal a deal cut between Schweitzer and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell one year ago in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to protect the Flathead watershed and Glacier National Park.

Continue reading . . .

Daily Inter Lake: Money found to seal N.F. mine deals

Another chapter is unfolding in the running effort to ban mining in the Canadian headwaters of the Flathead River: Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer announced a deal Monday that will compensate two mining companies for investments they already have made in the drainage.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Nature Conservancy of Montana have agreed to split the costs of compensating the Cline Mining Co. and Max Resource group for about $10 million in “sunk costs,” Schweitzer told reporters at Flathead Valley Community College.

Continue reading . . .

[Update: Text of the press release from the Governor’s office (PDF, opens in new window.]

Baucus & Tester praise agreement to retire Canadian oil and gas leases

Yesterday’s announcement of the commitment by The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide funds to retire oil and gas leases in the Canadian Flathead is getting lots of coverage today. Here’s the official press release from U.S. Senators Max Baucus and John Tester . . .

February 15, 2011


Senators Praise Agreement to Retire Canadian Oil and Gas Leases at No Cost to American Taxpayers

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s U.S. senators U.S. Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced a formal commitment from British Columbia to pursue legislation that codifies North Fork protections on the Canadian side of the border today.  British Columbia signed the agreement in conjunction with an event in Washington today with Baucus, Tester, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer and representatives from The Nature Conservancy.

The commitment also includes an agreement between The Nature Conservancy and Nature Conservancy Canada to provide $9 million to retire existing oil and gas leases on the Canadian side of the border at no cost to American taxpayers.  Baucus and Tester have championed efforts to retire leases without using taxpayer dollars. To date, the Senators have secured the voluntary return of more than 200,000 acres of old oil and gas leases, or 80 percent of the total leased acreage on the American side of the border.

“Like anything else, protecting the North Fork requires hard work and cooperation. We’ve been working behind the scenes for months to secure this commitment that is 30 years in the making, and I’m thrilled our efforts to bring folks together have paid off,” Baucus said. “Today’s agreement will protect the North Fork on the Canadian side without asking American taxpayers to foot the bill, just like we’ve done successfully in Montana. And Canadian legislation that mirrors our bill here in the U.S. will help secure permanent protections for the Flathead economy.  I want to thank British Columbia for their commitment to preserving this vibrant tourist economy and for helping us keep Montana the last best place for generations to come.”

“This agreement is a testament to what happens when we work together to find solutions that don’t involve American taxpayer dollars,” said Tester, chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.  “A lot of folks worked hard to keep this special part of North America pristine for future generations of hunters, hikers, anglers and sightseers—and it will result in a stronger economy and jobs for Montana.”

“Our conservation challenges don’t stop at the border so it is important that our nations join together to protect our world’s natural resources and treasures, including the Flathead River Basin with its pristine lakes and alpine scenery,” said Secretary Salazar. “Completion of the agreement to protect the Basin from mining and energy development is not only an historic event, but also a wonderful celebration for the many people who are dedicated to coordinated, sustainable protection of this important watershed.  Many thanks are due Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana for their critical work over the years to protect the Basin.”

“We are thrilled and grateful that so many people came together to protect this extraordinary treasure. No great river is constrained by a border, and it took the cooperation and hard work from people of both our great nations to ensure that the Flathead remains as pristine as it is today. We simply couldn’t have achieved this enormous success without a long list of people, starting with Senators Baucus and Tester, Governor Schweitzer, Premiere Campbell, Secretary Salazar, Ambassador Doer and our partners at Nature Conservancy of Canada. Thanks to one and all,” said Kat Imhoff, the Montana director at The Nature Conservancy.

“Today’s announcement secures yet another chapter in this  30 year citizen’s effort to protect the irreplaceable North Fork wildlands. Many thanks to Senator Max Baucus, who has worked tirelessly to permanently keep these lands and waters pristine for generations to come, and Senator Tester, each of whom played an enormous role in getting us here today, and to Governor Schweitzer who built on their hard work,” said Tony Jewett, Vice President of the National Parks Conservation Association. “With the immediate threat of resource development now on the sidelines, both nations have a window of opportunity to put in place new agreements that will protect this globally significant area permanently.”

“We deeply appreciate the leadership shown by the Montana delegation with the reintroduction of the North Fork Watershed Protection Act.  Senators Baucus and Tester have worked tirelessly to ensure that future generations will enjoy the pristine waters and lands of the Flathead, including the world renowned Glacier National Park,” said Mark Turcek, president and CEO at The Nature Conservancy.

In June Baucus and Tester asked President Obama to press Prime Minister Harper on the importance of protecting the North Fork. The leaders spoke at the G-20 that month and pledged to cooperate.  Since then, Baucus and Tester have been working with Secretary Salazar, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Doer to build the agreement that led to today’s announcement.

The legislation announced today will formally codify the British Columbian North Fork protections adopted by executive order including: the Flathead Watershed Order (February 9, 2010), the No Disposition notice, the amended Mineral and Coal Land Reserve Regulations (Feb 9, 2010), and the amended Southern Rocky Mountain Management Plan (May 19, 2010).  Putting these protections into statute will ensure more permanent protections that cannot be overturned with leadership changes in British Columbia.  Baucus and Tester have been fighting to pass similar legislation to prevent future oil and gas development and mining on the U.S. side of the border without impeding the timber industry, hunting or fishing.

For the past 30 years, Baucus has been a steady and strong voice to protect the North Fork of the Flathead River, beginning with his successful 1975 proposal to designate the Flathead as a Wild and Scenic River.