Senators to Canada: Review Should Include Montana Scientists

By Beacon Staff

HELENA (AP) – Montana’s U.S. senators Wednesday asked Canada to give Montana scientists a voice in assessing potential environmental effects from proposed coal mining and coal-bed methane work in southeastern British Columbia.

Industrial development in that part of the province, north of Montana’s Glacier National Park, has raised concerns in the state about possible harm to water quality in the transboundary Flathead River system.

Montana scientists should have a place in Canada’s federal environmental assessments for a mining proposal by Canada-based Cline Mining Co., and for potential coal-bed methane extraction by British Petroleum, Democratic Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus wrote Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador to the United States.

An Associated Press call seeking comment late Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned by the after-hours duty officer at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

“Montanans are outdoors people, and take pride in protecting our most treasured places for future generations to enjoy,” Tester and Baucus wrote. “Coal mining in the upper tributaries of the Flathead drainage would present serious risks to a valuable conservation legacy in northwest Montana, and would undermine the larger international effort to protect such spectacular places …”

The senators said Canadian law gives officials in that country the option of convening a joint review panel.

The letter was sent just days before the 75th anniversary of Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, consisting of Glacier and its northern sister, Waterton Lakes National Park along the border dividing British Columbia and Alberta.