Methane meeting opens talk

Coal-bed methane drillers in Alberta face some stiffer environmental laws, but far fewer lawsuits than their American counterparts, an energy company president told Gov. Brian Schweitzer Wednesday and a group of invited industry and environmental representatives.

Michael Gatens, chief executive officer of Unconventional Gas Resources of Calgary, Alberta, said Canada’s methane industry faced major opposition when it first got started in 2001, thanks to past bad experiences in the United States and the ample media coverage those experiences received.

Schweitzer said he invited Gatens to Helena because he wanted to know where Montana ranked with its energy-producing neighbors in terms of environmental laws, taxes and other factors influencing coal bed methane development.

Schweitzer said he learned that Montana’s laws, while stricter than those in Wyoming, which also has methane reserves, are not as strict as laws in Alberta.

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