Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Len Broberg

Commitee Members

Matthew McKinney, Michael Shannon Quinn


2012 Olympics, British Columbia, Coal, Coalbed Methane, Conservation, Flathead River Valley, Montana, Transboundary


University of Montana


The potential for coal development in the transboundary Flathead River Valley threatened the ecological integrity of the Crown of the Continent for more than thirty years. Economic benefits from coal mining in British Columbia were pitted against the environmental concerns of poor water quality, endangered species protection, and connectivity issues were of particular interest in Montana. This paper examines the course of coal development proposals in the transboundary valley through government statements, reports, and news sources to track changes in policies or actions that led to a resolution. Tensions between the benefits and burdens of coal development were resolved in 2010 by a Memorandum of Understanding between British Columbia and Montana, which removed coal, oil and gas development in the transboundary valley. The desire to trade-off economic interests and environmental concerns emerged from government documents and statements throughout the dispute. The emergence of tourism in British Columbia led to the resolution of lost economic opportunities through compensation and assumption of the lost economic and development opportunities by the U.S. and Montana in the Flathead watershed. Further protection of the Montana Flathead Valley is pending U.S. Senate approval.



© Copyright 2012 Nadia E. Soucek