Energy Corporation of America (ECA) began work last week on the well in Belfry recently permitted by the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC). A local resident reports, “They unloaded equipment on Wednesday and Thursday, and by Saturday we had a full city, including phone.”
Consistent with the company’s pledge to “bring the Bakken to the Beartooths, ” ECA is already engaging in questionable activity. The company is drawing water out of a gravel pit on a neighboring property, which, according to local residents, is not covered by ECA’s permit. The residents say they have been told by the Montana Department of Natural Resources Conservation that even though the pit is on private property, the water in the pit belongs to a common ditch and is the common property of area residents. Neighbors share this ditch, which is governed by a board of property owners. The board would have to give permission before the water could be used.
The residents plan to file a complaint today.
This behavior is consistent with everything we have learned about ECA. We know that they were serial polluters in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, with 66 inspections with violations, 90 separate violations, 55 enforcement actions, with fines totaling over $80,000 in Pennsylvania alone. We know that the company was sued in a class action lawsuit alleging they failed to pay royalties due landowners.
At the very least the company is guilty of failing to deal with neighbors of the Belfry well in a straightforward way. Those who hoped ECA would be a “good neighbor” were dreaming. This kind of contentious behavior, where drillers ignore the concerns of local citizens, is apparently what John Mork meant when he promised to bring “the Bakken to the Beartooths.”
If you’re new to this subject you might want to read these related blog posts:
- A visit to the front in the war against rural America, a recounting of my visit to the well site in April.
- What’s wrong with the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation, which tells the story of the contentious permitting process for this well site,
- Location of the Belfry well permitted by the MBOGC last week, which provides location information for this well
ACTION UPDATE on 5/20/2014 at 10PM
A protest has been filed with the DNRC. Support the protest by contacting the head of the DNRC office in billings:
Please do it right away!
More photos taken in the last few days: