If you read this blog, by now you are aware that the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) approved the permit allowing Energy Corporation of America (ECA) to drill near Belfry. If you haven’t seen it, the Billings Gazette did a piece this morning voicing the concerns of Carbon and Stillwater county property owners. While the article clearly expressed concern, it was disappointing that it didn’t delve very deeply into ECA’s serial polluting record.
Here’s a letter that Bonnie Martinell of Bridger sent to the Gazette today, voicing her disgust at a process in which an agency chartered to protect the public aligns itself with industry. She’s given her permission to post it here.
I am one of the farmers that spoke at the BOGC on Thursday about the ECA’s permit. I am not surprised that the BOGC gave them their permit. When you have on the board Bret Smelser, who has to throw his 2 year old fits/ rages accusing people of things he knows nothing about and walks off in a rage when people are talking. And then you have Tom Richmond who is rolling his eyes and mocking what the experts are saying. We were respectful to them, why couldn’t they respect us? When you have to file a lawsuit just to be heard and then they are still complaining that they have to hear you? Not only did the board protest it but ECA, the one who says they are a good neighbor, also protested our right to speak. ECA has made no effort to work with the neighbors; they are already bullying the land owner.
It is very sad that in a state that prides itself on agriculture and tourism that one of our own agencies is not willing to protect them. The BOGC, whose board members say they are rural Montanans, have no humanity. They heard very legitimate concerns from people who make their living/ lifestyle off the land and understand this area better than anyone, and refused to protect them despite the fact that is part of their job, job description and mission statement.
I was very proud of all my neighbors who spoke. We all have real concerns. These are not if’s, they are when. In the lack of humanity that this board and oil company has I hope they understand they are responsible for what happens.
-Bonnie Martinell, Bridger
Bonnie, you’ve been heard, whether the BOGC liked it or not. MUCH more to come.