The glaciers are melting
right out of the park
so they dug a big coal mine
now the Flathead runs dark
Dont it always seem to go
That you dont know what youve got
Till its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
(Okay, so I'm not a lyricist. Nor am I Zadig. But I digress.)
Michael Jamison's story is up on the Missoulian's website, until they take it down.
The basic outline is pretty horrific: BC wants to mine the coal seams above the headwaters of the North Fork of the Flathead river, just north of the US-Canada border from Glacier national park in Montana. The area, Jamison notes, is extremely important for wildlife:
The North Fork of the Flathead is home to the thickest population of grizzly bears this side of coastal British Columbia. It's home to lynx and wolverine, bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.
And yeah, the impacts are likely to be pretty damn serious:
Water samples from [below an operating coal mine at] Michel Creek, [scientist] Hauer said, show sulfite levels 18 times higher than in the undeveloped Flathead. Nitrate levels are 650 times higher. Levels of the heavy metal selenium are 57 times higher, exceeding Montana drinking water standards.
“We have been spending millions in this basin to keep phosphorous and nitrogen out of Flathead Lake,” he said. To undo that work now would be “unconscionable.”
But here's what's really interesting. Gov. Schweitzer and Sen. Baucus are taking positions here that, well, sound an awful lot like the kinds of things that Tom Power, Mike Bader, and the rest of the bleeding greenies have been saying for, oh, the last two decades or so.
...[T]hat wild and scenic heritage, Schweitzer said, ... continues to fuel northwest Montana's booming economy.“The entire world recognizes the importance of this corridor,” the governor said.... [Sen.] Baucus called the potential dangers “devastating,” not only to fish and wildlife but also to a regional economy now heavily reliant upon protected wildlands.
And they're gearing up to escalate.
Schweitzer said he's looking for ways to take the story “over the top of the mountains and all the way to Vancouver,” British Columbia's provincial capital...“I think this is now going to be in the lap of the State Department.” “That's my job,” said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. “I'm just going to have to find a way to do it.”
Point being not so much that the Northern Rockies Democrats are finally getting a little environmentalist on us, but that these narratives, and these facts, are fast becoming the new common sense.
As the "bloggers" say, About.Damn.Time.
It's amazing, how someone else trying to externalize their environmental costs on us can clarify the zeitgeist.
Hey Canada -- we dare ya to try to log the Idaho Panhandle. We double-dog dare ya!