The Province of British Columbia and State of Montana have signed a new partnership agreement to sustain environmental values in the Flathead River Basin and to work together on climate action and development of renewable, low-carbon energy, B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer announced today.
"Today's agreement will ensure the environmental values in the Flathead River Basin are sustained in a manner consistent with current forestry, recreation, guide outfitting and trapping uses to maintain the healthy eco-system that exists today," said Premier Campbell. "It will also lay the foundation for us to co-ordinate on climate action and to pursue clean, renewable and low carbon energy that will benefit our citizens. I want to thank Governor Schweitzer for his leadership on this important initiative and for our ongoing partnership on issues affecting both B.C. and Montana."
"This agreement helps ensure the protection of the Flathead Basin and Glacier National Park for this generation and generations to come. I want to thank Premier Campbell for his leadership and commitment to working together to make this collaborative agreement a success," said Governor Schweitzer. Over the next few months we will be working with our respective federal governments to implement the additional necessary actions."
"The Ktunaxa have a historical connection to the Flathead and have used and continue to use the Flathead for hunting, fishing, trapping, gathering, recreation and as a travel corridor," said Kathryn Teneese, chair, Ktunaxa Nation Council, who officially witnessed the signing. "I want to thank the Province of British Columbia and State of Montana for working with us on this agreement and for their ongoing commitment to engage with First Nations and Tribes throughout the region."
The Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation on Environmental Protection, Climate Action and Energy builds on the obligation both jurisdictions have under the Environmental Cooperation Agreement of 2003, which lays a framework for conservation of the environment shared by B.C. and Montana.
Under the Memorandum, British Columbia and Montana agree to work together, and in partnership with federal governments, Ktunaxa Nation and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, local governments, and other community interests. The memorandum covers three components -- environmental protection, climate action and renewable and low-carbon energy:
1. Environmental Protection
* Remove mining, oil and gas, and coal development as permissible land uses in the Flathead River Basin.
* Co-operate on fish and wildlife management in conjunction with Ktunaxa Nation and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
* Collaborate on environmental assessment of any project of cross-border significance that has potential to affect land or water resources.
* Share information proactively on proposed projects that have potential cross-border impacts and develop early notification procedures to identify concerns of residents, First Nations, Tribes or government entities.
* Collaborate in responding to emergencies that have the potential for environmental harm.
2. Climate Action
* Facilitate adaptation to climate change by building regional capacity to understand and address the challenges posed by climate change to Western North America.
* Promote a wood building culture for climate action through a strategy aimed at increasing forest stocks, producing an annual sustained yield of timber for wood construction, enable new building technologies in structural wood designs by amending building codes and encouraging the use of wood in public leasing and public building projects.
* Measure progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the Climate Registry.
* Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as signatories to the Western Climate Initiative.
3. Renewable and Low Carbon Energy
* Pursue co-operative clean and renewable transboundary energy policies.
* Harmonize definitions of low impact renewable resources including hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and tidal/wave energy.
* Support the Western Renewable Energy Zones (WREZ) Project.
* Encourage a "Conservation First" Utility Framework with electricity and natural gas utilities.
* Leverage energy efficiency through shared information on energy performance standards in building codes.
* Enable clean transportation solutions by sharing information on standards and best practices to promote biofuels, natural gas, hydrogen, and electricity as transportation fuels, and promote consistent roadside signage for alternative fuel stations.
"This announcement demonstrates that the government fully recognizes that the Flathead is a unique area that is deserving of special attention and it confirms that with a high standard of resource management, the Flathead can remain an integral part of the fibre supply so critical to the long term viability of the Kootenay region's economy," said Tembec executive vice-president Dennis Rounsville." This critical decision by the Province will contribute to both the long term ecological integrity of the Flathead and the sustainability of a forest based economy."
For a map of the Flathead River Basin and to view the Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation on Environmental Protection, Climate Action and Energy in full, go to http://www.mediaroom.gov.bc.ca/DisplayEventDetails.aspx?eventId=478.