While we gorge ourselves in mirth and celebration after our battle victory the enemy is circling, laughing at us, preparing to complete the final assault.
Great military tacticians, great campaign leaders, all understand their opposition. They all view the battlefield as a game of Chess. Sometimes you must give up a strategic position to encircle the enemy; setting traps, decoys. An ambush, when executed well, will provide the victor years of story telling. And this is what happened when the British Columbia Government and Royal Dutch Shell announced they would not be drilling for Coalbed Methane Gas in the Klappan Groundhog Coal Fields. More commonly known as the Sacred Headwaters, it was here the trap was set.
When the stakes are high the best players take over the field. Consider Royal Dutch Shell as a Chess piece, a Knight, which was moved to provide an opening for the winning move. The Klappan is now in Check and is about to be Mated.
Just 20 days prior to this December 18th, 2012, coalbed methane decision
by the BC Government and Royal Dutch Shell, on November 28, Fortune Minerals, the company planning to dig up all the coal from the Klappan, received their “Mine Feasibility Study” from Golder Associates Inc. who state in their recommendations on page 1-4 of the report; "Golder-Marston recommends that Arctos commences with the Project assuming that the strong low-volatile PCI coal market outlook continues and that all permits can be obtained.”
It is a classic "Bait and Switch" move. While environmentalists were baited to celebrate a victory the threat was switched.Fortune Minerals Details Here
Fortune Minerals changed the name of this project from the Mount Klappan Project to the Arctos Project to hide it. During a public meeting in New Hazelton last year the representatives freely acknowledged they recognized the word ‘Klappan’ would attract too much attention as the region is sensitive to the local population, so in their wisdom they changed the name.Watch a video of the meeting here
The most significant infrastructure required for this project is the rail bed. CN Rail owns the present infrastructure from Ft St James to the old Minaret logging camp, a location where the Sustut River drains into the Skeena River north of Takla Lake. Apparently BC Rail still owns the already cleared and prepared rail bed north, past Mount Klappan, to Dease Lake. Golder estimates the rehabilitation of the existing track and the completion of the line to the mine site will be $330 million. Ballast rock will be a significant feature as during the initial construction of the bed to Dease Lake in the 1970’s many locations suffered washouts.
Another feature associated with this plan to construct a railroad through the Klappan region and north to Dease Lake is the recent announcement by proponents for CAPP (Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers) to move the bitumen from Northern Alberta to Alaska by rail. Presently there is no railroad to Alaska. There is a Railroad to Fort Nelson, but with the completion of the railroad to Dease Lake the shortest and most cost effective route would be completing the line from Dease Lake, through Whitehorse to the existing tracks at Beaver Creek south of Fairbanks, Alaska.The plan for the Alaska Railroad connection can be found here.
On January 14, 2013, the Reserve Village of Kitsumkalum celebrated the opening of the new CN railroad into their rock quarry. The former Vice President of Enbridge Northern Gateway and Former Liberal MLA, Roger Harris, is now President of the Kalum Quarry. Harris was the lead negotiator achieving the deal to provide CN with the rock required in exchange for building the spur line into the quarry.
On January 31, 2013 the Band entertained their Treaty negotiators and the Province of BC when they signed an agreement providing access to more land to add to the amount of rock available for the rock quarry. CN financed Kitsumkalum and has agreed to accept the rock available for repayment terms. This rock is special as it does not leech acids and can be used in sensitive marine environments. CN will use this rock for their rail beds and port facilities.
On February 2, 2013 those who struggled for a full 8 years to protect and save the Klappan; beginning with the blockading of the Telegraph Creek Band Offices, evicting Jerry Asp, and later getting arrested on the road into the region, all gathered in the Kitsumkalum Reserve Village Community Hall to celebrate their victory against Royal Dutch Shell. They did not save the Klappan.
There are many classic tales and analogies. The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing from the Aesop's Fable collections could be used here. Yet in this case the wolf wearing the sheepskin has invited the entire flock into his den to celebrate. Speaking words of encouragement and congratulatory expressions the sheep were all sent off to dance in merriment celebrating together, backslapping and gorging themselves in spirits and laughter. The Wolf grinned from ear to ear as he watched them leave the den.
Later the Queen will move in to the position opened up by the Knight (who boldly moved out of the way), placing the Klappan “In Check”.
When Kitsumkalum signs the next agreement, the AIP, the Queen will be absolved of her duty to the people. We will then consider the source of the waters for the three major river systems of the Northwest, the Nass, Skeena and Stikine, in Checkmate. Details of the rivers and mountains here
The Mountain captures the snow in the winter to provide the water throughout the year. No mountain, no water. With the railroad completed the oil will cross all watersheds at the peak. In time, after the destruction, the coalbed methane will still be there, and no one will care anymore. The Knight (Royal Dutch Shell) will easily move back into the position he opened for his Queen.
One truly has to admire the skill of a good Chess master. And even crooks are celebrated in lore for their skill at deception and success in an ambush.
Photo from Generating for Seven Generations. A futuristic look however to only tracks in place are the Fort Nelson and the, soon to be, Dease Lake extension.
This map shows "Chipmunk" near the end of the present tracks at the confluence of the Sustut and the Skeena Rivers. The railbed to Dease Lake is ready with the majority of the rough-in completed.
These pictures are of the already prepared railbed, blasted right of ways, and clearings for the railroad just south of Dease Lake. All this can be seen from Hwy 37 north.