Canadian coal project could be windfall for community

Canadian coal project could be windfall for community

January 21, 2007 Filed Under: Coal Mining, Mining Services  

A clean coal project that would be the first of its type in the world might be constructed on the north side of the 49th parallel.

Sask Power of Regina, Saskatchewan, is talking about a $1.5 billion plant north of Estevan in the same province.

”It would not even need a smoke stack,” said project spokesman Larry Christie.

Sask Power is conducting a $20 million engineering study, to take a closer look at the technology that involves burning coal in an oxygen climate, and then capturing the carbon dioxide gas for sale to oil field operators for injection and enhanced oil recovery.

The power company has aging coal-fired plants that are in need of refurbishing and announced last year that the Estevan project had already received preliminary site approval. The other location contender was Coronach, Saskatchewan, north of Scobey, Mont.

The corporation plans to make a final decision in July.

Estevan community development coordinator Bert Roach said he’s expecting the project will be approved, and if it does, the community would see an influx of 1,500 construction workers for four years.

The plant would bring more work in the coal industry, plus a bump in the oil field, based on the CO2 project.

Estevan already has about 400 job vacancies, and housing lots are being snatched up as quickly as they’re opened up.

The clean coal plant could see a second phase, also, meaning more permanent workers and a longer construction phase.

”We’re ready for the second great wave of immigration to Canada,” Roach said.

Canada gets about 100,000 immigrants a year.

”Why we don’t have a million people or more coming in every year, I don’t know,” said Roach, referring to the country’s vast natural resources.

”” The Journal, Crosby

Stanton gets year

The Stanton Elementary School will get one more year to operate.

The combined Center-Stanton School Board voted by a 3-2 margin to close the elementary school at the end of the 2008 school year.

The vote came after months of special community and committee meetings.

Two school board members ”” Nathan Henke and Rick Schmidt ”” were in favor of closing at the end of the present school year.

There are 27 students at Stanton grades kindergarten though six.

Committee members who made a recommendation on the closing said they struggled with deciding what the watershed criteria ought to be ”” finances, staff jobs or best interest of kids.

It came down to money.

It cost $3,000 more per student to educate kids at Stanton than it did at the Center elementary, which has an enrollment of 88 students.

”When you look at it, it was strictly business,” said superintendent Royal Lyson.

The district will save about $254,000 by closing the Stanton school, mainly from salaries and benefits for four teachers, a secretary and a cook-custodian.

Lyson said remaining open until 2008 means the district can buy out contracts for some teachers who are near retirement.

”” The Hazen Star

Elders unhappy

Facing an $80 million deficit, with some auditing still to do, the Three Affiliated Tribes has said it will no longer fund programs with its JTAC funds.

The JTAC funds come from a $149 million trust established in 1991 intended to compensate the tribes for land lost for the flooding of Garrison Dam. Congress said tribes could spend the interest on health, education and economic development.

Three Affiliated Tribes repeatedly borrowed against that interest until the fund no longer has liquidity.

Frank White Calfe, tribal council treasurer, recently sent a memo to the tribes’ chief financial officer, ordering him to cease all expenditures from those financed by JTAC.

That includes the MHA Elders Organization, which has 700 tribal elders as members, and a budget of $600,000.

Tribal elders and their families packed the tribal council chamber last week to air their concerns

Ramona Two Shields, executive director of the elders’ organization, said JTAC was meant for the health of the elderly, not for loans.

”I believe there’s another way to do this, than to yank the rug from right under the elders,” she said. ”The majority of our budget has been spent on medical care.”

Tillie Walker said her generation grew up on the now-flooded Missouri River.

”We shouldn’t be the first victims,” she said.

White Calfe said he inherited a ”monster” of a job.

”They (tribal council) borrowed money based on the … J TAC. Your JTAC is exhausted,” he said.

Chairman Marcus Wells Jr. told the crowd that the tribe’s budget hasn’t been balanced for seven years. He said if the council doesn’t bring its budget into balance, it should be reprimanded.

The following day, the tribal council provided $30,000 in funding to the elders’ program, and the same amount for the Parshall Resource Center and the Boys and Girls Club.

”It won’t be a full budget, but it’ll be something to work with,” said White Calfe.

”” New Town News

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