A proposed coalbed methane (CBM) project in British Columbia’s Elk Valley is drawing opposition on both sides of the U.S./Canadian border. BP plc‘s Canadian subsidiary in January announced it would spend C$1 billion to develop the Mist Mountain CBM Gas Project in the province’s Crowsnest Coalfield (see Daily GPI, Jan. 28). BP also entered into a commercial agreement with Elk Valley Coal to evaluate CBM opportunities on the Elk Valley acreage. However, the city council in Fernie, BC, wants to prevent the Elk Valley development. The council unanimously passed a resolution that provincial regulators rescind or not issue leases to BP to explore or develop the Elk Valley region because of the possible environmental contamination. The tourism industry in Fernie, which is about 50 miles north of Montana, could be jeopardized, the council stated. Because the Elk River sends water into Montana’s Lake Koocanusa, which is near Glacier National Park, some U.S. stakeholders also have voiced their opposition to BP’s plans. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) said in February that the potential CBM project in the Elk Valley was a “worry” for Montana because of possible contamination to the border-straddling Lake Koocanusa. Provincial officials said environmental reviews are their top priority, and concern in Fernie and Montana is premature. Also, not all of the area’s residents are opposed to the CBM proposal, noted BC’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. The ministry said it would consider the Fernie opposition, but it also will consider other regional stakeholders that are in favor of the development.

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