Montana Supreme Court agrees to hear Silvertip zoning case

We’ve often said that the road to progress on oil and gas issues is long, so it’s nice to get small victories along the way.

The Montana Supreme Court this month denied a motion to dismiss the Silvertip zoning case by the Carbon County Commission. The decision allows the case to continue and be heard by the Supreme Court in early 2016.

The Montana Supreme Court.

The Montana Supreme Court will hear the Silvertip landowners’ appeal of Judge Blair Jones’ ruling early in 2016

Case background
In 2014, a group of Belfry landowners petitioned the Carbon County Commissioners to grant the protections of citizen zoning after Energy Corporation of America announced plans in October 2013 to hydraulically fracture 50 wells along the Beartooth Front, an area that includes Carbon and Stillwater counties in Montana and forms the northeastern flank of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Mork boasted that ECA hoped to bring “a little bit of the Bakken” to the Beartooths.

The group sought to establish the Silvertip Zoning District, which would include nearly 3,000 acres of agricultural land north of Belfry. Montana law empowers landowners to initiate the development of zoning regulations for the protection of their land and community by petitioning their county commissioners to establish planning and zoning districts.

After initially approving the district, the Commissioners last January voted to deny the zone. The Commission’s rejection was based on the opposition of certain neighboring landowners under a provision of the law that the plaintiffs argue is unconstitutional.

In February of this year, the petitioners filed a legal challenge to the Carbon County Commission’s decision to reject their petition.  In a narrow ruling, Judge Blair Jones on July 8 dismissed the lawsuit without ruling on the merits of the landowners’ legal challenge.

In August, the Silvertip landowners appealed a ruling in a lawsuit they filed to assert their rights to protect their land against the harmful effects of oil and gas drilling. The appeal will go to the Montana Supreme Court.

The opening brief for the Silvertip landowners is due on November 18. The response of the Carbon County Commissioners and the protestors will be due on December 18, and the Silvertip landowners will submit a reply brief by January 4.

We will keep you updated on the schedule of the actual hearing before the Supreme Court.

Worth fighting for

Worth fighting for

You can read documents related to the case below:


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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5 Responses to Montana Supreme Court agrees to hear Silvertip zoning case

  1. Lt. Colonel (Retired, US Army) Richard Liebert says:

    Well done and persistence matters! By the way I’m a member of Montana Farmers Union and your courage and comments on setbacks inspired me – as a rancher also – to present a resolution to Montana Farmers Union 100th Anniversary and convention 22-23 Oct, 2015, and it will be to support SETBACKS to protect our land, water and health and insist the BOARD OF OIL AND GAS do it’s JOB! We’re also having a fracking white-paper being presented by Hertha Lund. Bravo! “Even when one citizen shows courage that is a majority” said Andrew Jackson.

  2. Pingback: “SLAPP suit” attempts to intimidate organizations protesting local oil and gas zoning | Preserve the Beartooth Front

  3. Pingback: Silvertip landowners’ Supreme Court case receives boost from University of Montana amicus brief | Preserve the Beartooth Front

  4. Pingback: Timeline of events leading to legal action by Silvertip landowners | Preserve the Beartooth Front

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