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Baucus tells BP Execs: Halt Coalbed Methane plans
Montana Senator tells Energy Chiefs to expect fight; Wants public meetings in Kalispell on proposed coalbed methane plans
September 10, 2007

Senator Max Baucus news release

The British Petroleum Company (BP) can expect “a knock-down, drag-out fight” if it advances a proposal to tap coalbed methane seams in the Canadian Flathead, Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus said today (Monday, September 10, 2007).

Baucus issued the warning during a face-to-face meeting in his Washington, D.C., office with BP America Chairman and President Bob Malone and BP Canada chief Randy McLeod.

Baucus said BP can expect “a massive and unpleasant fight from Montana that will end badly” for the company should it file an exploratory permit for its Mist Mountain coalbed methane extraction project in British Columbia -- near North Fork of the Flathead River, which borders Glacier National Park and runs into Montana’s Flathead Lake.

Baucus, who successfully blocked a coal mining project in the same area in 1988, says coalbed methane development there could have devastating consequences to fish, wildlife, and the recreation industry downstream in Montana.

“I’ve been fighting to protect water quality and wildlife in the Flathead Valley for 30 years,” Baucus said after the meeting. “I’m not about to give up now. We’re going to do whatever it takes to stop energy development north of our border. We’re pulling out all the stops. The gloves are off.”

Baucus also asked the company to conduct public meetings in Kalispell as soon as possible to allow Montanans to weigh in on the proposal.

The most significant byproduct of coalbed methane extraction is wastewater that can contain high levels of harmful contaminants such as barium, copper, iron, and ammonium. Canada has no law requiring that coalbed methane wastewater be re-injected back into the ground. Even so, the Flathead Lake Biological Station in Montana says that re-injection would be technically impossible given the hydrology and rugged terrain in the region.

BP is expected to file for an exploratory permit to dig test wells in what’s called the Crowsnest Coal Field, an area that spans 190 square miles, covering much of the B.C. portions of the North Fork of the Flathead as well as the adjacent Elk River Valley, which drains into Lake Koocanusa near Libby.

At the same time he’s fighting the BP proposal, Baucus is also working to stop a separate coal mining project proposed by the Cline Mining Co., in the same area.

“Some places should be off limits,” Baucus said. “It’s that simple. Some places are too important to hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation.”

Baucus is also making good on his promise to secure dollars to gauge the environmental threats posed by energy development in the Canadian Flathead. He’s working with Sen. Jon Tester to shepherd $1.25 million through Congress to collect baseline environmental data in the area.

Editor’s Note: BP is a London, England-based international company which had sales and operating revenues of over $266 billion in 2006. It operates across six continents and has products and services available in more than 100 countries. It is one of the world's largest energy companies. Its products include fuel for transportation, energy for heat and light, retail services and petrochemicals products for everyday items. The BP group is the largest oil and gas producer and one of the largest gasoline retailers in the United States. They are the second-largest refiner and fuels marketer in North America. They employ 37,000 people in the US, and are the largest non-US company on the New York Stock Exchange. They operate about 10,000 miles of pipelines in the U.S. In Canada, their activities focus on the production of natural gas and derivatives.

Related Links:
Max Baucus News Release
Montana Senator Max Baucus website
BP website

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