Search Results for: citizen initiated zoning

Good news from Carbon County. Silvertip landowners resubmit citizen initiated zoning petition to County Commissioners, plus Belfry well timeline

Exciting news today from Carbon County. The landowners in the Silvertip Zone resubmitted their petition to the County Commissioners to establish a citizen initiated zone in Belfry yesterday. Landowners had originally submitted a petition to the Commissioners on August 18, … Continue reading

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Citizen initiated zoning: a way to restore fairness to oil and gas drilling in Montana

Oil and gas drilling in Montana is fundamentally unfair to landowners. Because of the way the law and institutions are structured, landowners have few rights, and the deck is stacked unfairly in favor of those who profit from oil and gas … Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization, Politics and History | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments

Beartooth landowners file motion for summary judgment in zoning lawsuit

Beartooth Front landowners last week filed the critical brief in their lawsuit against the Stillwater County Commissioners. It outlines their argument for why landowners alone, without the approval of minerals owners, should be able to establish a citizen-initiated zoning district. The argument lies at the heart of a central tension in Montana law: the self-determination of landowners to decide what happens on their own property vs. the importance of mineral extraction to the state economy.

Assuming there are no extensions, the County will have 21 days to respond, and then the landowners will have 14 days to reply. That will put the end of briefings in early October. Our attorney has asked for a hearing on the motion, and we are hopeful that Judge Jones will conduct the hearing and issue a ruling on our motion before the end of the year.

To read more, click the link.

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Last chance to tell the Stillwater Commissioners how you feel about proposed zoning policy

Writing letters makes a difference.

We saw it last week when the BLM backed off on a decision to sell oil leases on the Beartooth Front because of public opposition.

The Stillwater County Commissioners have decided to rewrite Montana state law to keep landowners from establishing reasonable protections from drilling. They need to hear that you think that’s a bad idea.

Tuesday, March 13 is the last day they will accept email comments.

Please click the link to find out what to do. It will only take a few minutes. Continue reading

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Do mineral rights have anything to do with citizen initiated zones in Montana?

While the Stillwater County Commissioners have conceded that zoning petitioners have met the minimum threshold of 60% of landowners in the proposed district, they are now questioning whether the holders of mineral rights in the district should be included in the petitioning process.

By my research, there are at least 110 citizen initiated zones that have been enacted under the law enabling citizens to petition for zoning, and it appears that not a single one required the signatures of mineral owners.

Why is this an issue now? Continue reading

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Stillwater County Beartooth Front Zoning District update

I will be writing more about this in the near future, but want to pass along this update from the Beartooth Front Oil and Gas Committee. This has been a long battle, slowed to a crawl by the Stillwater County Commissioners, who have raised delay to a fine art. Continue reading

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The Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation does not protect citizens from the damage done by oil and gas drilling. Here’s what local communities can do about it.

A small item on the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation docket for the organization’s December 9 meeting provides just a hint of major problems with the BOGC.

This state agency does not adequately enforce its existing laws and regulations with regard to oil and gas, and the problem has worsened as the Bakken oil boom has increased demands on the BOGC. If Montana residents want to protect themselves from the damage caused by oil and gas operations, they need to create their own local regulations.

Click to read the damning results of a 2011 Montana Legislature audit of the BOCG, and a report that shows the resources just aren’t there to enforce existing regulations. Continue reading

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Beartooth Front landowners present hundreds of signatures to Stillwater County Commissioners to set up oil and gas zoning district (with video)

On Tuesday, November 10, before a room packed with supporters, Stillwater County landowners from the Nye/Fishtail area presented hundreds of signed petitions to the Stillwater County Commissioners. The petitioners want to establish the Stillwater County Beartooth Front Zoning District to locally regulate oil and gas activity within the boundaries of the zone. The area of the proposed zone is large, approximately 80,000 acres, and includes about 600 properties.

The submission is the culmination of over two years of work by local landowners in this rural community, who were jolted into action in October 2013 when John Mork, CEO of Energy Corporation of America, promised to use horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies to “bring a little bit of the Bakken” to the area.

Following Mork’s announcement, neighbors set to work learning about the impacts of oil and gas activity, studying Montana law and regulations, holding meetings to weigh possible alternatives, reaching broad consensus for action among landowners, and gathering signatures.

This is the first formal step in what promises to be a long process in Stillwater County. Click to find out more about what happened, see video of the meeting, and understand what’s next. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization, Politics and History | Tagged | 21 Comments

“SLAPP suit” attempts to intimidate organizations protesting local oil and gas zoning

Oil and gas companies continuously try new legislative, judicial and business tactics to keep landowners from interfering with their business. When those strategies are successful in one state, they are exported to other states.

So it is of particular interest that in Pennsylvania, a corporate landowner and twelve individual landowners who have leased their shale gas drilling rights to an oil and gas operator have filed suit against environmental organizations that oppose the drilling.

Attorneys for the environmental groups have argued that the suit is a “SLAPP suit” — a strategic lawsuit against public participation — targeting individuals and groups for participating in public debate on government policies and the legal appeals of those policies.

29 states have laws against SLAPP suits. Montana is not one of them. Don’t be surprised if suits like this happen here. Continue reading

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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.

For more information and access to documents related to the case, click the link. Continue reading

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