Billings Gazette Letter to the Editor: Pete Dronkers

The following letter to the editor appeared in the Billings Gazette on April 18. As the letter makes clear, ECA is just another company out to exploit oil reserves without concern for the impact they have on the local community. Their track record shows this. In Pennsylvania,  66 inspections with violations, 90 separate violations, and 55 enforcement actions with fines totaling over $80,000; 70 more violations in West Virginia. As the letter writer says, “It’s time to demand better.”

To the Editor:

When I contacted Energy Corporation of America — one of the companies hoping to develop shale oil along the Beartooth Front — I asked if they’d notify area landowners of the whereabouts of their recently purchased leases, give an idea of what they hope to do and ask for feedback. I also suggested they set up a website and post information and lease maps so people can learn about hydraulic fracturing and understand what type of infrastructure may be needed.

When the company responded, they provided a prewritten letter about how they’ve been around a long time and are good environmental stewards. But nothing changed. People on the Front still don’t know what’s going on. Although it’s possible to tediously track down federal lease information if you already know how, the company’s dealings with non-federal leases is a mystery, and could be far more acreage than all their federal holdings. Even when a permit to drill is filed, ECA still hasn’t agreed to inform people that live nearby or post info on their website.

This shows ECA’s total lack of transparency regarding their intentions. Many of us have a lot to lose, like the quality of our groundwater or having to live next to 20-foot-high flames of flared gas and toxic fumes. We want to know where ECA is cutting deals and where we need to be on alert before the drill rigs show up. By then, it’s too late to have a seat at the table.

It seems this company will tell us they’re good neighbors, but their actions have told us otherwise. It’s time to demand better.

Pete Dronkers

Note: Pete wrote an excellent piece about drilling along the Beartooth Front for Earthworks last December. I’ve been meaning to link to it for some time, so this is an opportunity. Recommended reading.

Last note for the week: Our recent guest post from Ralph Kisberg of Pennsylvania, who provided hard-learned lessons about fighting against expanded oil and gas drilling, was picked up on Twitter by Russell Gold, senior energy reporter for the Wall Street Journal and author of the best selling book The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World. A number of his 5000 followers checked in to the blog to take a look around, a welcome (if temporary) exposure to the larger world.
Russell Gold tweet

About davidjkatz

The Moses family has lived on the Stillwater River since 1974, when George and Lucile Moses retired and moved to the Beehive from the Twin Cities. They’re gone now, but their four daughters (pictured at left, on the Beehive) and their families continue to spend time there, and have grown to love the area. This blog started as an email chain to keep the family informed about the threat of increased fracking activity in the area, but the desire to inform and get involved led to the creation of this blog.
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