Coal blocked in the Flathead Valley

In an encouraging development, the government of British Columbia has killed a proposed coal mine that had been proposed in the Flathead Valley. This was done for environmental reasons, particularly in response to concerns from the state of Montana that pollution from the mine would flow south through the river. In addition to the largest population of grizzly bears in North America, the valley apparently “holds massive coal and gas reserves that Shell and other oil and gas companies have spent millions of dollars preparing to explore and develop.”

The cabinet order goes beyond blocking one proposed mine. Rather, it “prohibits any mineral, placer or coal mining” in the valley. For the sake of climatic concerns, in addition to water quality ones, this is a decision to applaud.

4 thoughts on “Coal blocked in the Flathead Valley

  1. .

    Flathead River Basin deal ‘conservation gold’

    British Columbia and Montana will work together to protect a tiny piece of the province described as a missing piece of a world heritage site.

    A deal to be signed Thursday between Premier Gordon Campbell and Gov. Brian Schweitzer sustains environmental values in the Flathead River Basin, an area in the extreme southeastern corner of B.C., bordered by Glacier National Park in Montana.

    The pact is being called “conservation gold” by the Sierra Club of B.C., in part because Campbell has agreed to ban mining, oil and gas development in the region.

  2. .

    Will the huge expansion of coal mining in BC come under scrutiny in 2010?

    Few British Columbians are aware that coal is British Columbia’s largest fossil fuel export at over $5 billion. In 2008, ~26.6 million tonnes of coal was mined in BC, a majority of which was exported to markets abroad mostly in Asia (70%). When burned, or used in making steel, BC coal creates ~65.7 million additional tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, which are not currently counted in the government’s emissions calculation. Including coal virtually doubles BC’s emissions from all other sources.

    While other jurisdictions are phasing it out, coal mining is expanding in BC. Currently, there are nine operating coal mines, six proposed coal mines (awaiting environmental assessment approval), one mine (Herman Mine) that received environmental assessment approval in 2008, and five other projects in the very early stages of development.

    Coal is becoming the poster child for inaction on global warming. In Australia, the U.S. and Europe coal facilities are increasingly facing blockades and other forms of civil resistance. But so far in BC hardly a peep. That will change in 2010 and coal becomes an increasing focus for activists from around the province. Dogwood initiative will be releasing a report documenting the impacts of existing and proposed coal mining in BC. Perhaps this will inform British Columbians and become a catalyst for action.

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