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Bordering on confusion

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Last week, Montana newspapers reported Montana Sen. Max Baucus’ February 21 headline-worthy statement that British Petroleum had decided not to pursue a controversial coal bed methane development in the Canadian Flathead. But newspapers north of the border, along with the Missoulian, seemed to report the opposite.

As Canada’s The Globe and Mail described it, “BP Canada Energy Co. of Calgary is proceeding with its controversial $3 billion Mist Mountain coal bed methane project in southeastern B.C., despite U.S. reports that the project had been ‘scuttled.’”

The Missoulian quoted Jessica Whiteside, spokesperson for BP Canada, as saying, “We are still very interested in the potential of the Canadian Flathead.”

So which is it?

For his part, Baucus says he got assurances directly from BP America President Bob Malone. Barrett Kaiser, a spokesman for Baucus, says that “upper level officials at BP tell us Mr. Malone’s statements to Max remain true, and Max intends to hold them to their word. We’ve asked for that commitment in writing, and we’re expecting it within the next day or two.”

As for the Canadian press, it appears they took a “glass half full” approach. Canadian newspapers acknowledge that BP has not received the legal green light that would allow it to explore for natural gas in the Flathead. However, the media highlighted the fact that BP did get the go-ahead for surrounding areas.

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