Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Americans meddling again in the Flathead

Wildsight, Sierra Club, Y2Y and CPAW’s (environmental NGO’s) are losing credibility with their continued opposition to resource extraction in BC and Alberta. The call to ban new coal mines and place a moratorium on expanding existing mines is part of the Y2Y strategy. The ultimate goal is to remove at least 50% of the land base from Yellowstone to Yukon and lock it away from human interference and habitation. This report is on the heels of another study,  Safe Havens and Safe Passages, produced by environmentalists from Montana. These two reports want the same end; a national park and land locked away from development. These groups are not accountable to anyone but their US funders who provide millions to push an anti-fossil fuel campaign hidden in environmental campaigns.
The environmental NGO’s will cherry pick data to support their ideology and this latest one by Hauer provides ample ammunition for their rhetoric. The report was commissioned by Glacier National Park (GNP) which has no connection to the Elk River and only borders the US portion of Flathead River. Why would GNP meddle in the affairs of Canada other than to assist environmentalists in their goal of creating the long sought after Flathead National Park? The objective of the study was to “focus on potential environmental effects of proposed coal mining in the Canadian portion of the Flathead River Basin”  One has to wonder why the report is focused on the Elk River when the study is supposed to be about the Flathead.
The information in Hauer’s report is not new, multiple studies since the late 90’s have been done on the Elk and Flathead River. Hauer fails to reference any of the historical data or the studies done by many selenium experts in Canada and the US. To further complicate the issue; Hauer is associated to environmental NGO’s on both sides of the border. In 2012 he was the coordinator for  Wildsight’s 2012 Bioblitz in the Canadian side of the Flathead. Science is supposed to work by building a body of research which takes us closer to the truth and is free from external influences.  We should demand better science from a university professor that expects no less of his students.
Selenium is a naturally occurring mineral that is found throughout the system and is a required mineral in our diet. The known science on selenium in the Elk River shows that it is not a mortality factor for fish over the entire length due to the fast flowing flushing capabilities of the Elk River.  In 1995 the river had a major freshet event that flushed fish and their spawning beds out of the river. It has bounced back to record levels of bull trout, cutthroat and whitefish without any intervention other than reduced angling regulations. For Hauer to suggest that “coal mines represent a significant threat to the ecological integrity of these streams and rivers” does not take into account the historic rise and fall of fish populations. This is a classic example of cherry picked data.
The environmental NGO’s definition of the Elk River as “polluted” “poisoned” “toxic’ are clearly ignorant of the natural beauty of the Elk. It is widely known as one of the best Cutthroat fisheries that attracts fishers from around the world. Fishers come here because of the size and quantity of cutthroat not the polluted toxic mess that activists want to frame the argument around.  Wildsight’s Ryland Nelson went out on a limb and recently quoted in the Fernie Free press "You should not be eating more than one fish a week out of the Elk River otherwise you could be having health concerns". To suggest that people will be harmed by eating fish from the Elk River is fear mongering at best. Not one study has ever shown that correlation based on the values found in the Elk. Nelson uses no science to back up his claim; he is neither a scientist nor a health professional with any qualifications to make such a statement.
To place a moratorium on coal mining based on the Sierra Clubs rhetoric would be destructive at best. The environmental NGO’s are against all resource extraction regardless of the benefits to mankind. Environmentalist’s use a self-written version of the precautionary principle that places the onus on companies to prove nothing will ever happen to anyone forever into the future before they can proceed. Using their ideology a lot of the advances in modern science would never have been achieved.
Hauer's report only serves to fuel the media hype to ban coal mining and create a Flathead National park.  Environmental NGO’s and their American funders have the ability to be constructive and help the coal mines develop solutions to environmental issues, yet they choose the destructive path; using fear and misinformation to push their vision of what the world should be. It’s time we told these environmentalists to butt out unless they have something constructive or credible to add.
Paul Visentin Kootenay ThinkTwice group

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