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 below, 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.
I’m sure you folks are aware that Montana is one of only a few states operating in the black – thanks to hydrocarbon development, and that taxes – from hydrocarbon development – support schools in Carbon and Stillwater counties, and that hydrocarbon development has been on going in the north extension of the Big Horn Basin of Montana since before you were born, and that fracking technology goes back to the 1940s, and that geology along the Beartooth Front preclude development similar to the Bakken, and that you would not be able to enjoy the remote area around Beehive without the gas required to get from wherever you live to there.
Thanks for your post and the link to your comprehensive blog on water resources in Carbon County. You are clearly extremely knowledgeable on this subject.
However, I think a number of your assumptions are incorrect.
• First, you state that the geology along the Beartooth Front precludes development similar to the Bakken. While the volume of oil and gas produced won’t be the same, John Mork, the CEO of ECA, which plans to drill 50 wells in the area, has stated specifically that he “would love to bring something like the Bakken to Montana.” To local property owners, this is a chilling statement. What that means to many of us is water contamination, traffic, spills, inadequate housing and local infrastructure, railway explosions and worse. This is a much smaller and more fragile ecosystem than in North Dakota. It would take much less to make it as big as disaster as exists there today.
• Second, while hydraulic fracturing technology is many decades old, the advances that have enabled the current boom are recent. It is not settled; spills and toxic leakage have happened everywhere these new advances have been deployed: the Bakken, Powder River, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
• Third, you assume we are completely against hydrocarbon development. While that’s true in the long run, we recognize that alternative energy sources will need to be developed. We don’t expect the Montana economy to transform itself in a short time. But we also don’t want unregulated hydrocarbon development that will produce a disaster in our back yard.
• You don’t mention the huge amounts of precious water required to frack wells, or address where that water would come from. I’m sure it’s a matter of great concern to a water expert like you. It is to us, as well as the ranchers and farmers who we have talked to in the area.
I welcome further discussion on the topic.
Is there an email address I or phone number to contact you regarding permission to reprint your article?
Barbara, I have sent you a reply by email. – DJK
I’m sure Mr. Mork would love to see 50 producing wells on property that ECA has secured along the Beartooth Front. An I’m guessing he and those in the petroleum business regret his flippant remark equating undiscovered resources to what’s going on in the Bakken. It’s amusing to think there are people who, in on breath, would say “I don’t believe a word and oil man says” and in another breath would take his word as gospel.
The notion that these exploration and development operations are unregulated is a most certain fallacy. Numerous federal and state agencies set standards, based on public participation, that require compliance regarding clean water and air, reclamation, safety, greenhouse gas emissions, etc., etc., and reclamation with performance bonds attached.
Those with a genuine interest in potential resource development impacts to their area of interest need to familiarize themselves with the laws and participate in the agency’s planning and permitting process. If you feel strongly and can provide a good case you might approach the Forest Service and the BLM and push to place areas off limits to oil and gas leasing. The Good Neighbor Pact with Stillwater Mining Co., is certainly something to draw from. The Gallatin county zoning district on the Bozeman pass achieved well-heeled-out-of-state objectives even though it too was an overreaction and I question whether or not the area remains “unsullied” to wildlife with numerous surrounding 20 acre trophy houses.
Regarding water needs – if the Bakken comes our way – use is subject to rules, i.e., “1st in time 1st in right”, so all existing water users have priority and Rock Creek is a closed basin to more appropriation – no more rights can be filed on. This would not preclude an oil and gas developer from tapping deep formations for their water needs or they could possibly lease Yellowstone Basin water from the State.
I’ve attached a report that gives an idea of potential oil and gas reservoirs in the Big Horn basin.
Click to access 69_V_CH_6.pdf
Well done brave Beartooth citizens and for speaking TRUTH TO POWER!
Mr. Gruber, you sound like an angry man. I’ll put it plain and simple – some places in our country are being allowed to become fracking “sacrifice zones,” but the Beartooth Front is not going to be allowed to become one of those sacrifice zones. Political and financial resources are being mobilized that are going to make life very difficult for frackers on the Beartooth Front.
Can anyone tell me exactly where this Belfry well is? All the articles say it is “near” Belfry but that covers a lot of ground. We are looking into purchasing a home “near” Belfry and would really like to know where this is happening.
I’ll try to find a map with the exact location. However, you should be aware that ECA has announced plans to drill 50 wells in the area.
Some areas have been explored years ago and there are a few old pumps still working out there. I don’t have heartburn about all oil/gas development as long as they are few and far apart. But if this new development is in the valley, near towns and under farmland – that’s another matter.
Thank you David. I think many people would really like to know.
Now that the ECA well is being drilled it is very important to monitor the drilling. How about installing a web cam on a neighboring property and putting the video on the internet for everyone to see. That way people throughout Montana and the world can monitor ECA’s drilling. Also, if they screw up you would have a video proof of the screw up.
The costs are quite modest and you could ask for contributions by the viewers to the project.
Paul Van Tricht
Thanks Paul. Interesting idea. We’ll see what’s possible.
David, you might be interested in posting the following article:
Your timing is perfect. I was going to post The Daily Show video tomorrow, and I’ll incorporate information from this article in the post.
I’ve been enjoying your blog. The job application for the position based in Roscoe was rather chilling, especially because that’s the town that’s closest to my family’s cabin. In response to our side clearly losing the first battle in the long war, I wrote a manifesto against fracking on the Beartooth Front: http://earthdirectory.blogspot.com/2014/04/frackers-we-keep-telling-you-keep-your.html
Well said John. Hold onto your passion.
Hello, I am doing a civic action project to prevent fracking on the beartooth front for my senior government class. Would it be possible to interview you on the harms of fracking? or could you connect me someone else who is knowledgeable on the subject? Thank you
My name is Sam Schabacker, and I’m with an organization called Food & Water Watch. I’ve been following your blog and wanted to thank you for all the work you’ve done to keep fracking out of the Front!
Would your organizations please consider signing on to the 2015 Global Frackdown? It’s an annual event that unifies all the groups pushing for ban on fracking across the world.
This year, we’re going to deliver the sign on letter–representing hundreds of groups across the world–to leaders at the climate negotiations in Paris in December.
By signing on, you have an opportunity to send a loud and clear message from Montana that fracking = climate change, and it’s time to ban fracking now.
Here’s the link to sign up: http://www.globalfrackdown.org/organizational-sign-on-letter/
Please let me know if you have any questions or ideas!
Thanks Sam. I’m aware of your organization and the good work you do.
I work with several organizations. I know of at least two that have signed on and I’ll make sure the others are aware.
Thanks for the quick reply!
Who are the other organizations you know have signed on? We are working to get representation from all 50 states. Right now, we don’t have any group from Montana signed on.
I’d be happy to follow up with them to make sure they did not fall through the cracks.
Also, please let me know if there’s anyway I can support your effort. I went to school at UM and have memories of spending time on the Front.
From: Preserve the Beartooth Front
Reply-To: Preserve the Beartooth Front
Date: Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 9:12 AM
To: Sam Schabacker
Subject: [New comment] About
davidjkatz commented: “Thanks Sam. I’m aware of your organization and the good work you do. I work with several organizations. I know of at least two that have signed on and I’ll make sure the others are aware.”