Nearly a dozen treasure hunters scrambled around the legislative grounds for a chance to walk away with $600 as part of a Greenpeace-promoted scavenger hunt.

The cash prize represented the per-person expense of the $2 billion worth of taxpayer money spent on a series of provincial government projects to see if carbon capture and storage might work in getting rid of greenhouse gas pollution.

“We think that when Albertans find out they’re paying $600 ... they’re going to be pretty upset,” said Mike Hudema, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace. “Most people are pretty shocked by how much they’re contributing.

“We shouldn’t be throwing $600 of our money to pretend to clean up (industrial) pollution because it makes no economic sense.”

Every hour during the contest, Greenpeace announced hint after hint to help narrow down the hunt, starting with which side of the grounds to search and ending with the final clue of the GPS co-ordinates of the prize.

Two University of Alberta students — Mark Mielke, who is studying economics, and Sam Vance-Law, who is in the English program — were the winners. They found the tin case full of $20 bills buried under a spruce tree in the grounds’ southeast.

“It’s atrocious that (Premier Ed) Stelmach is spending $2 billion on this,” said Mielke. “He’s wasting that much money ... It would be nice to get it back.”

The students, who spent more than three hours searching for the treasure, said they would be using the money on tuition, books and groceries.

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