Scientists granted research window for Flathead Coalbed Methane mining

Scientists granted research window for Flathead Coalbed Methane mining by Michael Jamison, July 5, 2007, The Missoulian
Energy development is temporarily on hold north of Glacier National Park this summer, giving scientists at least a year to gather baseline data before Canadian coal and coalbed methane exploration begins. “We have several programs of study that are under way or are getting under way,” said Jack Potter, head of science for the park. “The question is, will we have time to get the work done before they begin drilling?” The National Park Service is beginning a $100,000 coal seam chemistry study, while the U.S. Geological Survey is spending $300,000 on water quality baseline work. The Park Service also has invested $75,000 to monitor waters at the border, part of a program that will develop agencywide protocol for data collection. And at the Flathead Lake Biological Station, a research arm of the University of Montana, researchers have received $300,000 from state lawmakers, all aimed at collecting environmental data on the larger watershed. State wildlife managers also have been busy, spending about $100,000 to date monitoring the fishery downstream of the Canadian energy interests. Meanwhile, Congress is looking to earmark as much as $3.8 million to the cause. It is, Potter said, a tremendous investment, made all the more impressive by the lack of spending by the Canadian government. In fact, British Columbia’s leadership has placed much of the data collection burden on the energy companies themselves, asking those with proposals to undertake their own environmental analyses. … But scientists on Montana’s side of the border are skeptical, saying BP cannot simultaneously collect baseline data while at the same time drilling exploratory wells. The drilling activity, they say, will taint the data. “It is not scientifically legitimate or defensible to do any kind of exploratory work while trying to collect baseline data,” [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:  B.C. gets $10 million windfall to protect Flathead River Valley  and Reader questions Hutchinson drilling ]

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