Battle line on the northern border

 

In Montana’s Flathead Basin, another industry–versus-environment conflict is brewing. But this time, the battle lines follow the U.S. – Canada border. Montana senators, federal agencies, and even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are trying to stop a planned mine just north of the border.

Cline Mining Corporation is seeking British Columbia’s approval for a mountaintop mine just above the headwaters of the North Fork of the Flathead River. The mine would produce 2 million tons of coal per year to be shipped to China.

The Flathead Basin, which stretches from northern Montana into Canada, hosts the highest density of grizzly bears in interior North America, and threatened bull trout spawn in its streams. Studies show that the mine would pollute water and destroy fish habitat by increasing levels of nitrate, sediment and selenium. It could also harm larger carnivores, including the grizzly.

It’s not the first time companies have tried to mine the Flathead. In the 1980s, when Sage Crick Corp. proposed a coal mine, Montana Sen. Max Baucus, D, appealed to the International Joint Commission, a binational organization established to help resolve water disputes. After three years of investigation, the commission recommended against mine approval, citing the impacts mining would have on the area’s water and habitat. Montana and federal officials hold that those findings apply equally to the Cline mine proposal.

But the company is moving ahead; it’s nearly done with the first step in British Columbia’s permitting process, scoping out the issues that have to be addressed in a formal application. The state of Montana and the Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. State Department have all commented, outlining their concerns about potential downstream impacts, but “most of the comments were not included in the (permit) document,” says Rich Moy, chairman of the nonprofit Flathead Basin Commission.

That omission prompted Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, D, to draft a letter to the Canadian government calling for a more extensive environmental assessment. Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson promised an environmental review, but didn't specify how thorough it would be. So, at the behest of Sen. Baucus, Secretary of State Rice will meet with her Canadian counterpart and request a rigorous look at mining impacts.

Cline Mining Corp. plans to submit its application this fall. In the meantime, groups like the National Parks Conservation Association are working to raise awareness among government officials on both sides of the border about the value of the basin area. “The response (to the coal mine) has been so strong,” says Will Hammerquist, program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, “because this place means so much for so many people. It’s a special place. People don’t want to put that at risk.”
NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Hiring Part/Full time for Summer Season - entry level & experienced positions. Year round employment for optimal candidates. Pay DOE.
  • Located on top of Sugarloaf Mtn. 5 mi W of downtown Colorado Springs, CO. $80,000.
  • The Draper Natural History Museum (DNHM) at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, WY, invites applications for Curator of Natural Science. Seeking...
  • in Southwest Colorado. $60K plus costs.
  • with six+ years of experience, broad knowledge of home and facilities maintenance. 207-805-4157, https://spark.adobe.com/page/8R7Ag/
  • Seeking full-time experienced farmer on 52-acre organic farm Union, OR. [email protected]
  • Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a Government Affairs Manager that is passionate about Western communities and the protection of the natural environment to support...
  • Metal roofing & siding, thru-fastened & seam profiles. Stronger, more attractive and longer lasting than any other panel on the market. 970-275-4070.
  • The Central Colorado Conservancy, a nationally accredited and state certified land trust, is seeking an innovative and dynamic Executive Director to guide the Conservancy into...
  • Forever Our Rivers Foundation seeks a driven and creative individual to lead this national movement for river health. Deadline 6/14/19.
  • We are looking for an experienced campaigner to lead our work challenging the oil and fracked gas industry, specifically focused on fighting fossil fuel expansion...
  • 7/12-7/14/19 in Taos, NM. With over 21 workshops and keynote speaker, poet Arthur Sze.
  • Badlands Conservation Alliance is seeking an Executive Director. For job description visit https://www.badlandsconservationalliance.org/hiring.
  • Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921
  • at RCAC. See the full description at https://bit.ly/2WJ3HvY Apply at [email protected]
  • Newly refurbished and tuned. Older model, great condition. Gasoline engine. Chains on tires. Heavy duty for mountain snow. Call cellphone and leave message or email.
  • Camping, hiking, backpacking, R2R2R, Tarahumara Easter, Mushroom Festival, www.coppercanyontrails.org.
  • Clean off, cool off & drink. Multiple spray patterns. Better than you imagine. Try it.