Preserve the Beartooth Front video: short version

Today we have a shorter version of the Preserve the Beartooth Front video.

Yesterday’s version of the video was 18:36. It explored in some detail the key issues involved in oil and gas drilling. Today’s 7:58 version has the same basic tone and messaging, but delivered in a tighter package. The two can be used interchangeably, depending on the situation.

If your Internet connection is not cooperative, you can download the video here. My experience is that if you click on the link, start the video and then wait just a few minutes it will load fairly quickly.

Check us out over at Last Best News!

Ed Kemmick over at Last Best News published a column about the video this morning. Check it out! If you don’t know about it, Last Best News is a site you should bookmark. It’s a highly recommended independent online news site dedicated to telling the story and covering the culture, people and places of this area.

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It’s here! The Preserve the Beartooth Front video

The project

Last October John Mork, the CEO of Energy Corporation of America, announced that his company was opening a Billings office with the intention to “bring something like the Bakken” to the Beartooth Front.

The announcement shocked the residents of Carbon and Stillwater Counties in Montana, and raised deep concerns that the heavy industry of oil drilling would permanently damage their land, their water and their way of life.

A grassroots group of residents began to study options and plan for action. One of the key challenges was how to inform other residents quickly, and deliver the message in a way that wouldn’t get bogged down in traditional political divisions. The group decided to create a video that could be be passed from neighbor to neighbor to explain what was about to happen, and how the community could take action to control its own destiny.

A budget was set, and funds were quickly raised to create the video, which was shot in late June and produced over the last few weeks.

What you are seeing today is the primary video. We’ll post a shorter version on this site tomorrow. Other videos have been created as part of the process. On Monday we posted a Beartooth Flyover video, and you can find outtakes from the individual interviews on Vimeo. Last Friday we turned the Deb Thomas interview into a personal story; over time we’ll do that with some of the others.

The storytellers

Bonnie MartinellBonnie Martinell. Bonnie and her husband Jack are organic farmers in Belfry, near the site of the first ECA well permitted by the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation. Ever since John Mork promised to bring the Bakken to the Beartooths, Bonnie has been a tireless voice in the community for fairness, rousing her neighbors to action, demanding responsible corporate behavior from ECA and its contractors, and helping to lead the effort for local action.

Bob and Mary Johnson2Bob and Mary Johnson. Bob and Mary have retired to Red Lodge from their home near Tioga, ND, where they ran a farm that has been in Bob’s family for 90 years. They impress with their balanced approach to the issue. Their experience living with the Bakken oil boom gives them a unique perspective on the challenges that face our community. They are not opposed to drilling, but recognize the importance of taking local action to do it right to protect the community.

dennis and cathy2Dennis and Cathy Rickman Hoyem. Dennis and Cathy live on a ranch in Nye that Cathy’s great grandfather originally homesteaded in the 1890s. They returned there after Dennis’ career at the Bureau of Land Management took them all over the West. In Nye, they have become deeply involved in the community; Dennis served as Stillwater County Commissioner for a term from 2005-10, and Cathy is a nurse who has served on the local hospital board, and as a lay minister at a local church. Their personal ties to the history of the area and their commitment to community have made them deeply committed to preservation of the Beartooth Front.

Deb1Deb Thomas. A fourth generation Red Lodge native, Deb has lived in the shadow of six wells near her home for the last 15 years. The experience has shaped her personal and professional life. She has had to deal with leaks, spills, air and water contamination and a major well blow out in 2006 that caused permanent contamination throughout her community. The experience has been personally transformative for her, leading her to change her career focus to help others organize to protect their communities. Deb is the subject of a personal story on this blog.

The experts

Hank LischerHank Lischer. Hank has retired to Nye with wife Barbara and golden retriever Annie after a long career as a professor of tax law. For the last several months he has immersed himself in Montana land use law, and has contributed long pro bono hours to helping the grass roots group understand and take advantage of available legal options. His focus has been on helping to tilt the balance of legal power to bring fairness and legal protection to land owners and local residents.

mark quarlesMark Quarles.  Mark is a geological engineer with expertise in oil and gas drilling. He testified before the Montana Board of Oil and Gas regarding the Energy Corporation of America permit application, providing information about  likely impacts of drilling on the community. He also examined Energy Corporation of America’s compliance record in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and found serious compliance issues that have implications for what we can expect in Montana. Mark’s perspective lends weight to the notion that state law affords small protection to local communities, and local action is required.

The message

If you’re looking for a highly partisan political message, you’ve come to the wrong video.

The video is about the importance of community, and maintaining the rural and small town way of life that people who live along the Beartooth Front treasure. It’s also about fairness. There’s a recognition that oil drilling brings heavy industry into direct conflict with people’s lives, and that the law is unfairly weighted to a great degree in favor of the oil and gas industry and against local land owners. To shift this balance, it is critical for local residents to get informed, work together, and change local laws to protect community, precious water, and a way of life. Action is urgent; drillers are on our doorstep.

The audience

The video is intended for local residents and policy makers. It is designed as a conversation starter to help neighbors talk to neighbors, encourage people to get informed, and spur local residents to action.

The credits

As with any collaborative venture the video took a tremendous amount of effort, most of it by dedicated volunteers. We are grateful to all who contributed, but a few people need to be singled out for special thanks:

  • The committee who worked to put the video plan together and execute it quickly: Deb Griffin, Becky Grey, Anne and Jane Moses, Peter Zimmer, Maggie Zaback and Hannah Hostetter.
  • The Beartooth Front Joint Committee, a group of energetic and dedicated local citizens from Stillwater and Carbon Counties who have given personally to the project, contributing financially, fundraising from their neighbors, and working to implement local solutions.
  • Northern Plains Resource Council and its affiliates Carbon County Resource Council and Stillwater Protective Association, which provide the glue to hold our grass roots work together.
  • Our videographers, Lynn and Gage Peterson, who kept professional and creative vigilance over our exuberant volunteers.
  • Our pilot, Bob Hilten of Columbus, who gave us not only the use of his plane, but his vast knowledge of the area to narrate the Beartooth Flyover video.
  • Local residents, neighbors, friends, family members, poker buddies, book group members, Montanans, and people from New York to Georgia to California who saw the need and contributed over $9,000 to fund the project.
  • Our storytellers and experts, who gave their time and lent their personal voices to tell this important story.
  • The mysterious proprietor of our sister Facebook site, No Fracking the Beartooth Front, who helped create awareness for this project to his extensive and loyal readership every day while we were raising funds, and who invests tremendous energy in the overall effort every single day.

The video

Enjoy.

Recognizing that rural DSL is sometimes balky, give it a little time to load. If your Internet connection won’t let you view the video, you should be able to download the video by clicking here. Once the video player loads, start the video and wait for the file to download. It could take awhile, but then you’ll be able to watch the whole video.

Get involved

  • Get educated. We’ve set up a web site dedicated to providing you with information on the subject. It’s a good place to start, and we’ll be adding lots of information over time. You can sign up for updates on the site.
  • Talk to your neighbors. To act locally we need all residents to be informed about these issues. Make sure they see this video, and help them understand what is at stake.
  • Contact your elected officials. Click the link and call or write. It is important that our County Commissioners and Conservation Boards understand the issues and the need for action to preserve our communities.

To order the video

Feel free to share the video online. If you’d like a DVD, we’re making them available for $5 to cover duplication and postage. you can email us for information on how to order: deborahgriffin49@gmail.com.

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Announcing a new informational web site: Beartooth Front: Get Involved

As we move toward local action on the expansion of oil drilling in Carbon and Stillwater Counties, it will be critical for local residents to:

  • Get educated
  • Talk to their neighbors
  • Contact local government officials
  • Get involved

There is so much information available today about oil and gas drilling and its impact on communities. Much of it is strongly partisan for or against drilling, much of it is published one day and gone the next.

To assist Carbon and Stillwater County residents as they move along the path of local action, we’ve created a new site: Beartooth Front: Get Involved. The site is still in its infancy. We encourage you to go on over and check it out.

Please suggest content. Just list a URL and a reason why you think it is valuable. Our goal is to include fact-based content from all sources. We will not post partisan opinion pieces.

Action item: You can sign up to receive updates when the content is updated. You’ll get these updates irregularly, but if this is a topic you are interested in you’ll find lots of great information over time. To sign up, look on the column of information on the right side of the page. There’s a search bar on the top, and then beneath it is a “Follow” button. Just click on it and follow the instructions. We promise not to overburden you with updates.

You can also bookmark the site and visit as time allows.

What you’re seeing today is just a start. There’s much more to come as we work to preserve the Beartooth Front.

Below you can see the current state of the well in Belfry. The purpose of the new site is to empower local residents to set the terms by which drilling expands along the Beartooth Front. It is not a partisan site, but one designed to give local residents the information they need to make their own decisions about how to get involved. The goal is a solution that preserves our way of life by being fair economically and respectful of personal rights.

Belfry well_072014

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The Beartooth Flyover video!

Video update 72114One of the most exciting moments in putting together the Preserve the Beartooth Front video, which will be released on this site Wednesday, was doing a flyover of the Montana side of the Beartooth Front. Today we have a video of that flyover, one of several videos of outtakes from the main video that we’ll be releasing over the next few weeks.

We generated a lot of footage that is used in the final version of the video, but the flyover also gave a wonderful perspective on the area we are trying to preserve. I created this map to chronicle the trip. You can click to enlarge:
beartooth flyoverbWe took off from Columbus airport at first light. The morning was clear and there was no wind or turbulence, enabling us get excellent footage. We crossed over the Yellowstone and headed southwest along the Stillwater (1). We passed Absarokee and headed toward the Beehive and Nye, getting an aerial view of the Hertzler impound and the Stillwater Mine.

The Pinnacles at Nye

The Pinnacles at Nye. Photo by Gage Peterson

We turned and headed southeast along the Front, passing the Pinnacles as we headed toward Fishtail (2). We crossed the West and East Rosebud and had a great view of Red Lodge and Rock Creek as we passed overhead.

Aerial view of Red Lodge

Aerial view of Red Lodge. Photo by Gage Peterson.

From Red Lodge we passed over Belfry, where we got a view of the ECA well, and then Bridger (3) and the Clark’s Fork Yellowstone before we headed back to Columbus. We took a detour and went past the front, deep into the Beartooths. From the ground it’s impossible to see the depth of the range, which takes you all the way to Yellowstone Park.

The most enduring impression from the trip was the significance of water. The five rivers I mentioned are all magnificent, and they are clearly the source of life in the area. Houses and towns and lush vegetation cluster along their banks. Just a few hundred yards away is brush, and population becomes sparse.

Water is the key to life along the Beartooth Front. It must be protected to preserve our way of life.

Our pilot was Bob Hilten, who spent 40 years as a professional pilot, and who has settled in Columbus, which he regards as the most beautiful spot in the world. He and his wife Lynn, also a commercial pilot, are prolific hikers, bikers and horseback riders through the area, and so Bob has an encyclopedic knowledge of the land and water. His narration on the flight was so great that we recorded it and included it as the soundtrack to the video below.

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Update: Belfry well photo

Here’s a photo of the new wellhead at the Belfry well site. If you look closely you can also see the edge of the new pond that has been constructed. Click to enlarge.oil well head 003

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A personal story: Deb Thomas, Beartooth Front, Wyoming

Our latest personal story comes from the Preserve the Beartooth Front video. The finished version of the video will be posted on this site next Wednesday, July 23.

To whet your appetite, the subject of today’s personal story was one of our interviews for the video. Excerpts from this interview contribute to the video’s powerful message, but today we offer a much broader selection of outtakes (see below) that give richness to our subject’s eloquent description of a long and tortuous period of her life spent in the shadow of six wells, working for change in her community and throughout Wyoming.

You can see other personal stories in our series by clicking here.

Video update 071814A personal story: Deb Thomas, Beartooth Front, Wyoming
Deb Thomas is a fourth generation Red Lodge native who has lived most of her life along the Beartooth Front in Montana and Wyoming. After her career in the hospitality industry took her briefly to Arizona, she and her husband Dick Bilodeau found an ideal location and settled on Line Creek near the Shoshone National Forest in Clark, Wyoming.

The spot was perfect for someone whose heart resides on the Beartooth Front, but she says ruefully, “If I had known then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have bought the property.”

Trouble started not long after they moved in. Out for a horseback ride one afternoon, they found an area near their home staked out with red flags. They tried to find out what it meant, but in Wyoming at that time companies could come onto state land, prepare a well pad and put in waste pits before they needed to get a permit. There was no information to be had.

Soon enough, in 2000, the drilling began. The company that did the initial drilling went bankrupt, and was replaced by Windsor Energy, the operator currently running the wells. They drilled four wells on the Bennett Creek pad closest to Deb’s house. Each well was initially drilled as a conventional vertical well, but was eventually drilled horizontally and fracked.

The operator began to have conflicts with the neighbors almost immediately. The first thing Windsor did was block off the natural drainage, which affected irrigation out of Line Creek. There was conflict over the use of the pits. In 2004 and 2005, Windsor opened and closed them for waste dumping. There were no berms to protect the neighbors from runoff, and there were numerous spills and leaks. The shacks on the well pad have continued to vent large amounts of gas into the air for years.

​"​You start recognizing the changes in your water, the leaks, the spills that happen, the truck traffic, the dust, the constant flow of people into your community that aren’t a part of your community, the lights, the noise, separator shacks explode, the high winds take things away.”Deb Thomas standing on the Bennett Creek well pad: “You start recognizing the changes in your water, the leaks, the spills that happen, the truck traffic, the dust, the constant flow of people into your community that aren’t a part of your community, the lights, the noise.”

There was trouble with the fourth well, which was linked horizontally to the Crosby pad, located up the hill. Natural geological activity has made the land highly fissured, so Windsor had problems drilling into the faults. This caused loss of drilling fluids, which would come back up the hole, down the county road, and into Line Creek.

Deb and her neighbors continually asked the State to test their water for contamination, but they couldn’t get any action. However, after a lengthy battle, the neighbors were successful in getting the well pad cleaned up. Standing on the pad, Deb says that was a significant triumph but adds knowingly, “You don’t want this pad in your neighborhood. It’s not a matter of what’s going to happen, or if. It’s a matter of when and how often it’s going to happen, because that’s the nature of the beast.”

It happened on a hot August afternoon in 2006.

The Crosby Blowout
Deb was working in her home office with the air conditioner running. She noticed that her nose was running and her eyes were tearing up all day, but she didn’t know why. At about 6:00, her neighbor knocked on the door to tell her he saw the well blowing on the Crosby Pad. So began the worst incident in her 15 years of living with drilling in her community.

(Note: if your Internet connection does not allow you to view the video above, try connecting to the link here. It should load quickly, even with a slower DSL connection.)

What happens when a well blows is that the operator loses control of well emissions. Early that morning while drilling at 9000 feet and performing high pressure drilling, pressure was suddenly lost. The methane in the well began to push mud and condensate back up the shaft. It filled the cracks and fissures in the rock made by fracking, and began to seek other exit routes. The mud began to spew in small geysers all over the hill side. They’d lost control of the well.

Fearing an explosion, Windsor decided to evacuate. Because the area is rural, there were few first responders, and notification to residents was sporadic. Many of the 25 homes in the area evacuated themselves. Deb recalls that you could hear a loud roar, smell the gas, and feel and taste a palpable oily film.

Residents were told to turn off their propane tanks and leave. Deb and Dick had four horses, dogs, cats, and birds, and were told to leave the horses. They went to a local community center, where the first responders brought pizza at about 8:00. The company said they would pay for rooms in town for the residents. Several families took them up on the offer.

Deb stayed. At midnight, the well’s site manager came in and said they’d lost control of the well. Deb says her first question was, “Where is the State?” She recalls with disbelief, “They had this major industrial incident, they had evacuated 25 homes and they hadn’t notified the State.” So Deb contacted the head of the Department of Environmental Protection in Cheyenne herself. Because the area was remote, no state representative got there until the following afternoon.

After three days, the well was brought under control. Residents returned to their homes. Windsor tested nearby wells, and said there was no contamination.

Because of the incident, Windsor received a second notice of violation. This required them to enter the Wyoming remediation program, and finally enabled the public to participate in how remediation from the spill took place. After years of asking for the state to do well testing, residents were finally able to have all nearby water wells tested. Monitoring started, with 100 monitoring points, monitoring for wells at 25 houses and four points on the creek, with testing at a specified number of times annually.

They began to discover terrible problems with water contamination. All nearby aquifers were affected, both shallow and deep. The contamination took place over time as the spill migrated. A well across the creek showed up with contamination a year to the day after the blowout. Contamination included benzene and dozens of other chemicals, both regulated and unregulated. The cleanup in the deepest aquifers was to take place by “natural attenuation” – just waiting for the contamination to work its way out. Today, eight years later, these aquifers are still not clean.

Shockingly, as soon as the well was sealed up, Windsor came in and drilled a second well on the same pad. Since 2006 the company has received two more notices of violation from the State.

A personal transformation
Living in the shadow of these wells for 15 years has been a transformative element in Deb’s life. As problems began to mount, her family’s proximity to the wells changed everything about her day-to-day existence. “Any surface disruption that happens to you, you’re going to have to deal with. You’re going to have to be the person who documents what’s happening. You’re going to have to be a fairly good photographer. You’re going to have to take notes, which means you’re going to have to write everything down. You’re going to have to become a press person, because you’re going to have to…tell the press about it.”

The experience also changed her career. She became an organizer for the Powder River Basin Resource Council (PRBRC), and has been able to use her knowledge and experience to empower people to work for change, from Pavillion to Powder River to Clark. With her help neighbors and Wyoming residents have become educated about their rights. They’ve been able to demand government accountability, remediation for problems and to delay or block oil or gas development in response to citizen concerns.

Somehow she has managed to stay remarkably upbeat about the future in a world in which the deck is stacked far in favor of the oil and gas industry. She takes personal strength from the fight, and she believes that everyone should be empowered to work for change in whatever way suits them.

She has recently left PRBRC and is looking forward to a continuing role on a larger stage in helping people fight against the harmful effects of oil and gas drilling.

If you feel you’d like to understand more about how drilling in a community affects people’s lives, I invite you to watch the video. Deb’s account of her experience is informative, articulate, passionate and highly personal. Definitely worth a watch.

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Update on Belfry well

This is a clarification on my earlier post regarding fracking of the Belfry well. This is an important development and it is critical to be precise. I have new information from Northern Plains Resource Council that clarifies exactly what is going on.

As we indicated, on July 7 Energy Corporation of America gave notice of “intent to perforate” the well. In addition they have filed an “intent to stimulate or chemically treat the well.”

Both of these are steps toward hydraulic fracturing. What they are doing is continued testing as they move toward fracking. This means that they have not yet made the decision to frack, but are taking steps in that direction.

According to Jim Halverson of the Montana Board of Oil and Gas (BOGC), ECA has told him that they plan on monitoring the results of the perforations for 30 days, then will apply to frack if they want to move forward.

As indicated in our last post, this requires 48 hours notice.

Bottom line: it appears fracking is not imminent, and it remains possible that ECA will not find what they are looking for. However, it is clear they are encouraged enough by the results of their earlier drilling to proceed toward hydraulic fracturing.

Watch this space for more detail.

Previous post on this well, and a history of activity related to it.

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Alert! Energy Corporation of America plans to frack Belfry well

According to documents filed with the Montana Board of Oil and Gas (BOGC), Energy Corporation of America appears to be planning to hydraulically fracture the Hunt Creek   1-H well in Belfry.

Here is a photo of the BOGC database search result. You can find it yourself by clicking on the photo and searching under operator or the API number in the photo.

ECA notification

According to BOGC rules, a 48 hour notice is required before fracking can occur, as follows:

36.22.608
(2)  For wildcat or exploratory wells or when the operator is unable to determine that hydraulic fracturing, acidizing, or other chemical treatment will be done to complete the well, the operator must submit a notice of intent to stimulate or chemically treat a well on Form No. 2 prior to commencing such activities provided that:
(a)  the written information describing the fracturing, acidizing, or other chemical treatment must be provided to the board’s staff at least 48 hours before commencement of well stimulation activities.

The notice was filed on July 7, which means they can frack any time.
perforation

The notice is an “intent to perforate.” Such a notice is filed when there is an intent to stimulate the shale formation using hydraulic fracturing. Before hydraulic fracturing can occur, the casing is perforated within the target zones that contain oil or gas, so that when the fracturing fluid is injected into the well it flows through the perforations into the target zones. This is typically done with explosives. When the explosives are detonated, holes are blasted through pipe, cement, and shale. Through these holes, fracturing fluid can flow into the shale. Fracking is typically completed in stages and during each successive stage, fracking fluid – large quantities of water mixed onsite with sand and other chemicals – is pumped into the well at high pressures to create and deepen fractures in the rock formation.

According to local residents, there is a new large well head at the site.

If there ever was a wake up call, this is it. It’s time for action.

Previous post on the well, and history of activity.

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Two excellent new collections of peer-reviewed scientific data on horizontal drilling

I do a lot of reading about oil and gas drilling, as many of you do, and I’m often frustrated to see reporting on a peer-reviewed study on a particular topic. I’m usually left wondering how these findings relate to previous studies in the same area.

Today I ran into two amazing sources of compiled information on scientific studies. They’ll keep me busy for awhile. I invite you to check them out as well.

Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy Database
The first source of information is a huge database of scientific peer-reviewed articles maintained by an organization called Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy. The database can be sorted by topic, author, or date, and you can find it by clicking on the button below.

Go to zotero.org

You can also pull up the articles by topic by clicking on the links below:

Click for more information

Click for more information

Concerned Health Professionals of New York Compendium
A second source, a compendium of peer-reviewed articles, presentations, public testimony, reports, statements and videos, was published on July 14, 2014 by Concerned Health Professionals of New York, an initiative to call on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to conduct a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment (HIA) on high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

The publication is a 70-page document full of fascinating information. You can download it below.
Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (unconventional gas and oil extraction)

published by

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American Petroleum Institute “Good Neighbor” Guidelines sound nice, but have little relationship to reality

The American Petroleum Institute (API) this week issued its first-ever set of “good neighbor” standards for oil and gas developers. API Director of Standards David Miller said,

“the API’s community engagement guidelines will serve as a gold standard for good neighbor policies that address community concerns, enhance the long-term benefits of local development, and ensure a two-way conversation regarding mutual goals for community growth.”

Good Neighbor Agreements mean someting along the Beartooth Front
The concept of corporate good neighbor policies has great meaning along the Beartooth Front. The Good Neighbor Agreement with the Stillwater Mining Company is a legally binding contract that has established a process for citizens to regularly meet with company representatives to address and prevent problems related to mining impacts, reclamation, wildlife, and other issues. It set aside land in conservation easements, instituted a program to reduce traffic on winding valley roads, and provided for independent environmental audits.

The Good Neighbor Agreement has demonstrated that it’s possible to run a responsible, profitable mining operation while protecting natural resources.

But the API’s good neighbor guidelines seem a lot more like a publicity stunt than a set of meaningful guidelines.

On paper, there’s a lot to like. (You can download a copy of the guidelines here.)

Oil and Gas Project Life Cycle (click to enlarge)
Oil and Gas Project Life Cycle     (click to enlarge)

About the API standards
The document defines a five-phase cycle of oil and gas development, and considers tools for companies to use at every phase. Overall, it says, oil and gas development can result in a positive experience for communities if development development activities are aligned with community concerns and priorities “grounded in responsible practices and lessons learned from former experiences.”

The document outlines key principles for communication, including

  • Promote education, awareness and learning;
  • Provide clear, concise information to all key stakeholders including community members and local authorities and regulatory agencies in addressing challenges and issues that can impact them.
  • Provide structured forums for dialogue, planning, and implementation of projects and programs affecting the greater regional area. Involve neighboring operators and those sharing adjacent properties or leaseholds in opportunities to work cooperatively on engagements.
  • Establish a process to collect, assess, and manage issues of concerned stakeholders. Inform stakeholders on the preferred methods for communication, perhaps providing national toll-free phone number, or by offering contact information for the local field office or corporate personnel responsible for community/stakeholder relations.
  • Design and carry out a communication strategy that addresses the community, cultural, economic, and environmental context where a project occurs, and that considers the norms, values, and beliefs of local stakeholders, and the way in which they live and interact with each other.

Throughout the entry phase, which is the one we are in today, the document encourages frequent one on one meetings and community forums with local residents to talk about things like road safety and traffic, providing communication materials that lay out the company plans. They also suggest a way for local citizens to communicate concerns and for the company to provide feedback on those concerns in a public way. There are suggestions for working with local authorities on workforce development, defining likely jobs and ways for residents to prepare for those jobs.

The list goes on. The document includes many good suggestions that could make a huge difference in how a community sees the likely impact of oil and gas drilling.

What we’ve experienced is nothing like these standards
Now let’s compare that to what we’ve experienced along the Beartooth Front.

In other words, when it comes to the Beartooth Front, the API’s good neighbor guidelines are just a fantasy story.

Why oil and gas good neighbor agreements don’t work
There’s a significant reason why oil and gas companies will never make a serious effort to engage with this community the way the Stillwater Mine has. The answer lies primarily in the oil and gas cycle pictured above. Companies come in for a quick profit. At most they stay a few years, and their complicated financial relationships with other companies mean that much of their work is subcontracted to others. Their employees come and go, frequently without families, often living in temporary housing.

The Mine, by contrast, is in the community for the long term. They have a small number of locations, their employees live in the community and send their children to local schools, and as a result the company and its employees have to live with the consequences of the way they run their business. It makes sense to work with the community as good neighbors.

The API is a public relations arm for the oil and gas industry. They have written a document that has many positive elements, but has little chance of being adopted by oil and gas operators, who are much more interested in a hit and run kind of approach.

Let’s not be fooled. The law is tilted far in favor of oil and gas extraction at the expense of local property owners. If we want these companies to be good neighbors, we’re going to need to force them into it by enacting local laws that govern their behavior.

 

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