Shell is shut down in the Kootenays'

Community activists are celebrating the end of one grimchapter in the story of coalbed methane extraction in BC’s Rocky Mountains. Shell Canadais quietly “discontinuing” its exploration program there.

“We certainly see this as a victory,” Casey Brennan, the Energy and MiningProgram Manager with the Kootenay-based environmental group Wildsight, told Landsand People “We engaged in a respectful dialogue with Shell and let themknow that coalbed methane exploitation was not compatible with the wilderness valuesin this area.”

“While Shell claimed they were using best management practices, we observedsignificant impacts from their operations,” Brennan continued. “Oil and gascompanies are not used to the level of scrutiny our community subjected Shellto. We documented enough problems to know that coalbed methane is not anappropriate industrial activity for this region given the lax regulatory rulesand enforcement.” 

Despite the positive news of Shell’s departure, Wildsight and its partnersvowed to continue the scrutiny and pressure. “The provincial government’s Codeof Practice for the Discharge of Produced Water puts our sensitivewatersheds at risk,” Brennan insisted. “We will continue to promote strongregulations that require companies to re-inject all produced water into theground, and to conduct comprehensive baseline studies before drilling.”

The Fernie City Council, the State of Montanaand the Union of BC Municipalities have asked theprovincial government to do more environmental studies before allowing coalbedmethane drilling. The provincial government has promised a communityconsultation process, but has yet to outline one.

Dogwood Initiative will continue to work with Wildsight to inform communitiesand press the government to do coalbed methane right, or not do it at all.

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