There will be no development of mining, coal, oil or gas properties in the Flathead Valley, said the British Columbia government in its Throne Speech delivered Feb. 9, 2010. The decision is a huge win for environmentalists in the province and the State of Montana.
Our Montanan neighbours have been vociferously opposed to drilling or development for fear the Flathead River, which flows south through the state, would become contaminated. They pointed to proposed coal bed gasification plants as a particular worry.
In situ coal gasification has the potential to create an energy source based on huge reserves without the surface disruption of open pit mining or the sulphur emissions associated with coal-burning power plants.
I, as I suppose most of the mining industry does, find nothing frightening about coal bed methane production. What is the difference between extracting methane from coal seams or tonnes of garbage at the local landfill? The dump south of Ottawa has promoted a partnership with local businessmen to do just that. The project is hailed as a wonderful source of clean energy. I can tell our readers from personal experience that garbage dumps smell terrible and in situ coal seams don't.
The decision in British Columbia is a political one rather than a practical one. Should it be reversed in the future, the coal resources will still be in place.