BP Canada is preparing to begin a controversial gas drilling project in the B.C. Rockies within a month, despite the ongoing crisis the oil corporation is addressing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Environmental activists say they are not pleased about the company’s intentions for the Mist Mountain site, near Sparwood, which has received the go-ahead from the B.C. government.

“We’re concerned about the impact to wildlife productivity in the region,” said Ryland Nelson of environmental advocacy organization Wildsight.

He added that he’d like to see BP adhere to the B.C. Environmental Assessment Agency’s standard procedure, which Nelson says the company’s own assessments have not done.

Conservationists worry that contaminated water from the coal bed may leach into the groundwater while BP re-injects it into the ground.

Nelson maintains BP has not been sufficiently transparent about its plans, and residents of nearby communities, including Fernie and Sparwood, have not had enough of a say. Fernie town council has consistently opposed the plan.

BP spokeswoman Hejdi Feick said the project is planned for land — 500 square kilometres in area — that has already been disturbed by logging.

“It’s not actually a project at this point, but we hope it will one day be ... We don’t know when we’ll be able to drill (due to the wet weather),” said Feick.

She added that BP has consulted with local residents and indigenous groups for three years, and that BP’s environmental assessments are on the company’s website for the public to see.

According to the website, the project could provide 250 jobs in the region, and a total cash outlay of up to $10 billion. The company has already started construction on an exploratory well.

Premier Gordon Campbell told media the B.C. Rockies project is “not anything like” drilling underwater in the Gulf of Mexico.

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