The following Letter to the Editor appeared in the online editon of the Ravalli Republic (Hamilton, Montana) on March 30, 2014:
The Red Lodge area has been described as the gateway to Yellowstone National Park, nestled in the beautiful Beartooth Mountains. Come experience hiking, fishing and exploring among Montana’s highest mountain peaks. See the astonishing wildlife. This area offers extraordinary beauty and Western hospitality. Not only is this one of Montana’s shining stars as far as tourism goes, but here, farmers and ranchers can produce healthy crops and livestock by utilizing our pristine water system and rich soil.
But how long will this last? Will another generation of Montanans and travelers be able to enjoy our treasure?
Thanks to the Board of Oil and Gas, this area could soon be changed forever. They have already given Energy Corporation of America the license to start drilling and fracking. This company proudly claims, “This will be the next Bakken.” Is this what you want for Montana?
It is not too late to stop this massive destruction. But talking to the Board of Oil and Gas will do no good. They’ve shown they have their minds made up to drill. Our only hope is to work with our legislators to reform the board: its makeup, lack of transparency, lack of enforcement of existing rules and oversight of active wells, and the barriers to public participation.
This is not just an environmental issue. This is about our land, water, recreational opportunities, tourism economy, and the strength of our rural communities. It’s time for us to stand up and demand change.