Parks Group Praises Sen. Baucus for Supporting Glacier

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 5, 2004
Contact:   Andrea Keller, NPCA, 202-454-3332
Steve Thompson, NPCA, 406-862-6722


Parks Group Praises Sen. Baucus for Supporting Glacier

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Nonpartisan park watchdog National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today praised U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) for opposing a Canadian coal-mining project that would jeopardize water quality and wildlife in Glacier National Park. NPCA also applauded a major initiative this week by a panel of gateway community leaders, Montana officials, and federal agencies to protect the world’s first international peace park.

“Senator Baucus is a tremendous supporter of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park,” said NPCA President Thomas C. Kiernan. “His intervention in the Cabin Creek coal mine proposal is critical to ensure that Glacier remains a healthy asset for the state and the nation.”

A Canadian company, Cline Mining Co., has indicated its intentions to fast track a large-scale coal mine in British Columbia on Cabin Creek to full production by 2006 or 2007. Cabin Creek is a tributary of the Flathead River, which flows into Montana.

Sen. Baucus last week wrote to Secretary of State Colin Powell and urged the top administration official to determine whether a ruling made 16 years ago by the International Joint Commission (IJC) to halt a similar mining proposal would apply to the current one. Sen. Baucus also intervened in 1988 when a Canadian company proposed to develop a coal mine on the border with Montana. The proposal was defeated by State Department referral to the IJC, which ruled that pollution caused by the mine would “clearly constitute a breach of Article IV” of the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909.

In Friday’s letter to Secretary Powell, Sen. Baucus wrote, “I would like your evaluation of the status of the IJC’s 1988 finding on the Cabin Creek Coal Mine and whether that unanimous finding by the IJC in 1988 applies to the current Cabin Creek mine proposal. Additionally, I would like to know if the Canadian government has provided the State Department with any information that would demonstrate the pollution concerns identified in the IJC’s 1988 report have been fully addressed and mitigated in the current proposal. I hope you agree that such a demonstration by the Canadian government is essential before this mine is allowed to go forward.”

Kiernan also commended the Flathead Basin Commission for its unanimous resolution on Monday calling for full review of the projects by the International Joint Commission under the auspices of the Boundary Waters Treaty. The Commission includes citizen members appointed by the governor, a representative from British Columbia, and state and federal agency leaders, including the superintendent of Glacier National Park.

“Gateway community residents in the Flathead Valley fully appreciate what an extraordinary treasure we have in Glacier, the North Fork Valley, and Flathead Lake. It’s appropriate that these local voices help lead the fight to protect this world-class resource,” Kiernan said. “NPCA salutes the Flathead Basin Commission for its leadership.”

NPCA is concerned that the coal-mining operation could jeopardize water quality and wildlife in the North Fork of the Flathead River and in Glacier National Park, named by NPCA in 2003 as one of America’s Ten Most Endangered National Parks.

Research has shown that maintaining the health and integrity of Glacier National Park is critical for sustaining a vibrant regional economy. NPCA’s 2003 report, Gateway to Glacier: The Emerging Economy of Flathead County, concluded that Glacier National Park, the Flathead’s clean waters, local recreational opportunities, and the natural landscape are the region’s most important economic assets.

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