Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on June 23, 2008
Living in northwest Montana, this story is of particular interest to me. But the potential impacts are global and huge.. Since the 1970s, big coal and oil interests have been proposing to exploit new sites just north and west of Glacier National Park, a main focus of global warming. The area is one of the wildest places in North America and home to several endangered species, including grizzlies, lynx, and the near-extinct bull trout.
The most recent battle has been raging for nearly four years and has gone all the way to “W” himself, who, for a change, sided with conservationists. Cline Mining Corporation of Canada wants to extract over 40 million tons of coal over the next 20 years and BP wants to nose around the area looking for coalbed methane. The mines threaten to destroy both terrestrial habitat and the North Fork of the Flathead River, a Wild and Scenic River corridor that forms the western boundary of Glacier.
Water from the North Fork flows directly into Flathead Lake, the largest natural, freshwater lake west of the Great Lakes and is an important headwaters to the Columbia River. Coal mining in this area would have dire effects for some of the most pristine waters in both U.S. and Canada.
What’s next? Mining in the parks?
Because the problem crosses an international boundary, it serves as a reminder that we all must be good neighbors – something we take for granted in the U.S. with our ocean-to-ocean geography.
Look for more problems like this one worldwide, unless, of course, we can quell our appetite for fossil fuel.