Author Archives: davidjkatz

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.

Action alert: Stillwater County Planning Board meeting, Wed, 9/4, 7pm

The September meeting of the Stillwater County Planning Board will be held in Columbus on Wednesday, September 4 at the Stillwater County Pavilion (known as Little Metra) on the County Fairgrounds at 328 E. 5th Avenue North in Columbus.

This meeting will likely be a tough one for us, since we do not have a defined place on the agenda. We presented our draft regulations at the last meeting, and much of this meeting will be devoted to reaction to those regulations. This is why it is important for us to continue to come out in force for these meetings. This will be a long process, and we need to be out in front at every juncture.

Here is how you can be in action: Continue reading

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Must attend! Stillwater County Planning Board: Wednesday, August 7, 7pm

The next meeting of the Stillwater County Planning Board will be held this Wednesday, August 7, at the Stillwater County Pavilion in Columbus at 7pm. Please plan to attend. This is a critical meeting at which the Board will consider a draft set of regulations on a county initiated zone along the Beartooth Front in southern Stillwater County.

It is important for proponents to be in attendance and voice their support. It is expected that there will be opposition to the zone in attendance.

Note that the meeting is at a new location. The Stillwater County Pavilion is at 328 E. 5th Avenue in Columbus.

Click on the link to read the proposed regulations and view a presentation that shows the base standards the landowners are asking for.

Please try to attend if you can. We are at the critical stages of winning approval for this project that landowners have worked toward for six years. We need to show Stillwater County officials that your support for our efforts is unwavering. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization, Politics and History | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Stillwater County News: “Workable framework” adopted for potential southern county zone

(Note: The following article appears in the July 11, 2019 edition of the Stillwater County News. It is reprinted here with permission of the Publisher. Subscription normally required to read article. To subscribe, click here.)

“Workable framework” adopted for potential southern county zone

“As Stillwater County is in a state of growth, the commission is looking into any and all options to help protect the county against out of control growth. While this may happen through some sort of zoning, it also may not. The commission’s goal is to welcome growth, but make sure it does not negatively effect the county as a whole.”

-County Commission Chairman Mark Crago

A “workable framework” has been adopted by the Stillwater County Planning Board, the latest action in the yearslong process spearheaded by residents to create a zone in the southern end of the county.

 At the July 3 County Planning Board meeting, the Beartooth Front Coalition, a group of citizens from southern Stillwater County, presented a proposal for the creation of a zone that would regulate the surface impacts of oil and gas development.

The County Planning Board is considering the creation of the zone due to a mutual agreement between the Beartooth Front group and the county, who are opposing parties in a lawsuit regarding the invalidation of the group’s petition to create such a zone.

The lawsuit is on hold as the board considers the zone. After much discussion between the public and board members, the proposal was accepted last week by a 5-2 vote of the board and will act as a framework for the future as draft zoning regulations come to the board. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization, Politics and History | 3 Comments

Action alert: Your attendance needed at Stillwater County Planning Board meeting, July 3, 2019

There were continued positive developments in June in the Stillwater landowners’ attempts to establish a zoning district that will regulate oil and gas activity in southern Stillwater County. At the June meeting of the Planning Board, the Board voted to … Continue reading

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Action alert: New developments in landowner lawsuit against Stillwater County; what you can do to help

A district court hearing in the Beartooth Front landowners’ suit against the Stillwater County Commissioners, originally scheduled for May 23, was postponed by mutual agreement of the parties. The reason for the postponement was a positive development in discussions between the landowners and the Commissioners.

The two sides agreed that the landowners would propose a county-inititiated zone to the Stillwater Planning Commission on June 5. If the Planning Commission recommends forming the zone, which would regulate oil and gas activity along the Beartooth Front, and the Commissioners approve it, the lawsuit would become unnecessary.

If the zone is not formed, the lawsuit will continue.

You can provide critical support by attending the Planning Commission meeting and speaking up to show that residents are behind the landowners’ efforts. Read the post to find out more, and forward this post to others who you think might attend. Continue reading

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Learning Opportunity: Absarokee, Tuesday, May 21, 7pm

For the last six years local activists have focused on developing a responsible approach to oil and gas drilling in the rural West — places like Stillwater and Carbon County in Montana. Our argument has been that we need to act in advance of drilling to make sure that we are not overrun by heavy industry that is poorly regulated in Montana. We have struggled to work with local officials, who have not always been responsive to this approach.

Dr. Julia Haggerty, professor of geography at MSU, is an expert in this area. She has done extensive research on the communities of the West and how they respond to change. In her presentation, at the Absarokee Cobblestone School at 7pm on Tuesday, May 21, she will explore, using energy development as her subject, how local rural communities can cope with change that comes in an instant.

Come on out to learn and discuss this important issue with your neighbors.
Continue reading

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From Jimmy Kimmel: Kids explain climate change to Donald Trump (video)

It’s been cold this week in Montana, with wind chills down to -40°. Cold enough for mail service to be suspended in the eastern part of the state.

Leave it to the President, who has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by China (and worse), to completely misrepresent what this means in public statements and tweets. Trump clearly misunderstands the science behind global warming, and once again makes the classic error of confusing weather and climate.

I was going to explain this myself, but I think these kids do it much more clearly than I possibly could have. From the Jimmy Kimmel show:

Click to watch the video. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Preserve the Beartooth Front honored by The Montana Post

Preserve the Beartooth Front was recognized by Don Pogreba of The Montana Post in his article on Best of the Montana Blogs 2018. The article he cites is our August post on How the Trump Administration is quietly stripping away environmental protections. 

Thanks Don! Continue reading

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Largest oil and gas reserve in US discovered. It’s not the Christmas gift Ryan Zinke thinks it is.

On December 6 the US Department of the Interior announced the the discovery of the largest deposit of undiscovered, recoverable oil and gas resources in US history. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the reserve contains 46.3 billion barrels of oil, 281 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

“Christmas came a few weeks early this year,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “American strength flows from American energy, and as it turns out, we have a lot of American energy.”

Zinke’s reaction comes two weeks after the US government released a National Climate Assessment that says we must act now to avoid the devastating effects of human-caused climate change.

We need a Secretary of the Interior who understands that more oil and gas is not a Christmas present but a huge challenge of priorities. Zinke clearly doesn’t get it.

Continue reading

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Stillwater County landowner lawsuit update: County runs out the clock on Judge Jones; hearing set for January 16

In the three months since my last update on the Beartooth Front landowners’ lawsuit against the Stillwater County Commissioners, the Commissioners have carefully followed a familiar path — delay, delay, delay. The result is that a new judge will have to hear the case, likely resulting in more delays down the road.

The landowners filed the suit last February after the Commissioners denied a petition to set up a citizen-initated zone to regulate oil and gas drilling in southern Stillwater County. The Commissioners ruled that the petition did not qualify, even though it met the legal requirement of the signatures of 60% of the landowners in the proposed zone. According to the Commissioners, the petitioners needed the signatures of 60% of the minerals owners in the proposed zone in addition to the landowners.

Delays are nothing new in this case. The landowners originally submitted their petition in November, 2015, and the County has taken every opportunity to avoid complying with the law and granting the petition, which would put reasonable regulations on drilling, not ban it.

Continue reading

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