People in Princeton and downstream on the Similkameen River have become aware of the implications and risks of coalbed methane development.
Since the Vermilion Forks Naturalists invited Dogwood Initiative to speak in March 2004, a number of public and private meetings and workshops have contributed to building a community of informed people.
And they are not accepting glib assurances by the provincial Ministry of Energy and Mines that coalbed methane development is good for the local economy and will have no impact on the land or river. The people of Princeton and those living downstream on the Similkameen River have learned that government cannot make those assurances.
With respect to economic benefits, the provincial government basically gives 73% of the value of the gas, to the company. Then, after deductions and expenses and royalty credits and everything else that goes into the coalbed methane “royalty regime”, the provincial government takes everything that’s left. No revenue accrues locally. Zip, zero, nada.
What accrues locally are the environmental impacts. The devaluation of land. The potential corruption of groundwater in an entire watershed.
On September 27, 2004, the newly formed Similkameen Citizens Concerned about Coalbed Methane (Similkameen CCCBM) wrote a letter to Minister Richard Neufeld requesting four actions:
- Authorize an environmental assessment for coalbed methane extraction in the Similkameen River Basin.
- Conduct a comprehensive water baseline study of no less than three-years duration prior to development.
- Conduct a cumulative impact assessment from Princeton to the US border, with emphasis on the agricultural area
- Not permit any surface disposal of produced water
With 100 members at the time, and growing rapidly, the Similkameen CCCBM joins the Citizens Concerned about Coalbed Methane based in Fernie, and similar community, landowner and First Nations groups in Hudson’s Hope, Smithers, Hat Creek and elsewhere in BC.