MacKay urged to change methane stance

MacKay urged to change methane stance
By Leanne Ritchie , The Daily News
Published: Monday, April 28, 2008

North Coast MLA Gary Coons is encouraged that Liberal MLA Bill Bennett, formerly minister of Energy and Mines, has chosen to take the lead from his constituents by speaking out against coal mining and coal bed methane development in the Flathead Valley.

And Coons says he wants MLA Dennis MacKay to do the same in MacKay’s riding in the Northwest.

Following recent protests and petitions in Prince Rupert, Terrace and MacKay’s own riding in Smithers, McKay needs start listening to people in his Bulkley Valley-Stikine riding who want the Sacred Headwaters protected from coal bed methane extraction, said Coons.

“Here, you have another member of the Liberal government who was ready to run roughshod over the environment over the protests of his constituents,” said Coons, “and he (Bennett) has turned completely around. It’s good that he has finally put his personal opinions aside, stopped arguing against the protection of the Flathead; hopefully MacKay will do the same with the Sacred Headwaters.”

Coons said residents of Telkwa were outraged by a statement from MacKay in the legislature last week.

MacKay had said last Monday that Telkwa residents could light their tap water on fire even without commercial coal bed methane development. Many residents have since signed a letter stating that the MLA’s statement about the state of their water was not correct.

“I think it is very disappointing that the honorable member for Bulkley Valley-Stikine would assert something that is most emphatically not true,” said Coons.

“He would be well advised to check his facts before making wild claims about people’s tap water.”

“If the Liberal MLA for Bulkley Valley-Stikine really cared to listen to his constituent’s concerns about coalbed methane he would be better informed about what is going on in Telkwa,” noted Coons. “Maybe, he should take Bennett’s lead and start representing the people who elected him.”

The Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition has expressed concern that in Alberta, communities around coal bed methane developments have seen methane levels increase in their ground water to the point where they could light their water on fire.

Representatives from industry, however, have claimed that the methane existed in the water prior to the development of coal bed methane.

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