Canadian Coal Mining Interest Holds Glacier Park Hostage For US Taxpayer Money

flathead river basin image

Flathead River course, flowing south out of Canada, through the US Glacier National Park area. Image credit:Wikipedia

A joint U.S.-Canada effort is underway to halt ongoing exploration for gold, coal, oil and gas in much of the upper Flathead River Basin, covering 9,000 square miles and straddling the US/Canadian border. There's a parallel effort to buy out existing leases. As reported in the Missoulian, Montana's Governor is working hard to protect the pristine source waters of the Flathead's North Fork, in Canada and Montana. There is progress.

US Senators Tester and Baucus report that they have gotten lease holders on the US side to give up mineral development at no cost. However, they need $17 million in government or other aid to buy out existing leases - which look to be mainly on the Canadian side.Only a few days ago,

Montana's Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester today announced that the energy giant Chevron is retiring its interest in over 11,000 acres of oil and gas leases to help protect prime outdoor recreation areas in the Flathead Valley. Chevron is the second oil company to retire its holdings in the area. In April, ConocoPhilips retired its interest in nearly 170,000 acres in the North Fork.

After meetings with Baucus and Tester the company voluntarily relinquished its interest in 4 federal oil and gas leases covering approximately 11,000 net acres in northwest Montana.

One of the Canadian leases appears to be held by Cline Mining. This according to a Sierra Club posting:

Canadian and US conservation groups are calling on Cline Mining (TSX CMK) Corp.'s Board of Directors to announce today at their Annual General Meeting in Vancouver that the company will abandon its proposed Flathead coal strip mine.

The Lodgepole mine would remove 40 million tonnes of coal from a Flathead mountain and dump more than 325 million tonnes of waste rock into Foisey Creek, a headwaters stream of the endangered Flathead River. The Flathead River is a transboundary river that flows into the United States portion of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, a United Nations World Heritage site and Biosphere Reserve.

BP America, apparently had the good sense back in 2008 to abandon a coal bed methane extraction lease in the North Fork of the Flathead.

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