- New study shows much higher number of oil well spills than previously reported
- What a bipartisan solution to climate change might look like
- Learning opportunity: Earthworks activist training, Thursday, 2/9 at 6pm
- 24 US Senators are trying to preserve the BLM methane rule. Why isn’t Jon Tester one of them?
- Action Alert: Prevent the Montana Senate from taking landowner rights
Click to see the Preserve the Beartooth Front video
Author Archives: davidjkatz
Warning: This article is based on peer-reviewed scientific research. Science deniers may want to read elsewhere.
A new study by US scientists shows that as many of 16% of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill liquids every year. According to the study, there were at least 6,648 liquid releases from these wells over a ten-year period from 2005-14 in just four states — North Dakota, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Mexico.
Around 50% of spills were related to the storage and movement of fluids via pipelines. According to Dr. Patterson, “The causes are quite varied. Equipment failure was the greatest factor, the loading and unloading of trucks with material had a lot more human error than other places.”
Over half of spills in North Dakota occurred at wells that had recorded a previous incident.
In a fragile ecosystem highly dependent on concentrated sources of water like the Beartooth Front, this data is highly alarming. It argues for local regulation that protects water, air, and soil required for agriculture and ranching. Continue reading
Most of us bemoan the lack of civility, negotiation, and compromise in politics. We’re so polarized that government does almost nothing to solve our most critical problems.
What’s particularly frustrating to those of us who see climate change as a major threat to the future of human civilization is that the clock is ticking. Global temperatures have risen about 1.5° Celsius since the beginning of the industrial age and are continuing to rise. The impacts will accelerate with each uptick in temperature: rising seas and coastal flooding, longer and more damaging wildfire seasons, more extreme and destructive weather, more frequent and intense heat waves, widespread forest death, costly and growing health impacts, severe drought, stress on clean water systems, disruption of food supplies, and much more.
What makes this so frustrating is that simple and elegant bipartisan solutions to this problem exist. Just last week a group of conservative Republicans proposed such a solution. The proposers aren’t ideologues or hacks, they’re Republicans with impeccable credentials.
To read about their solution and why it could make sense, click the link.
Earthworks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development, is offering an online training webinar for environmental activists this Thursday, February 9, at 6pm Mountain. This webinar will cover: … Continue reading
Twenty-four Senate Democrats, led by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), have sent a letter to Senate leaders asking them to defend the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Methane and Natural Gas Waste Prevention Rule. Montana Senator Jon Tester … Continue reading
A bill currently being considered in the Montana State Senate significantly reduces landowner rights in protecting property from damage from oil drilling on or near occupied buildings. SB93, currently before the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, would reduce notification requirements approved last year by the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC). Those regulations require oil and gas operators to notify owners of “occupied structures” within a quarter mile of a well before drilling.
The BOGC rule, passed last December, was the result of a 20-month process involving Montana environmental groups, with input from the Montana Petroleum Association. The process grew out of the Legislature’s rejection in the 2015 session of SB177, which would have established a 1000 foot minimum buffer zone, or setback, between wellheads and a home, water well, or surface water. The bill did not make it out of committee.
Following the failure of the bill, Northern Plains Resource Council and others petitioned the BOGC to establish minimum setbacks to protect landowners. After 20 months of hearings, testimony by landowners, and committee meetings, the BOGC passed its new rule last December. The rule requires notification in advance of drilling to any landowner within a quarter mile of a wellhead.
To find out what you can do to keep this bill from passing, follow the link. Continue reading
“Changed circumstances”: Montana Board of Oil and Gas reconsiders rulemaking on fracking chemical disclosure
Citing “changed circumstances,” the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) has decided to reconsider rulemaking on fracking chemical disclosure at its next meeting on February 1.
While the Board didn’t specify what had changed, one new circumstance is the legal action filed against the BOGC on January 17 by a coalition of Montana property owners, public health advocates, and conservation groups. The suit seeks more transparent disclosure of information to the public on chemicals used in the fracking process. Continue reading
A coalition of Montana property owners, public health advocates, and conservation groups today filed a legal challenge to the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC), which refused last September to grant the public greater access to information about the chemicals used in fracking.
Many chemicals used in fracking are toxic or carcinogenic to humans, who may be exposed to the chemicals through surface spills of fracking fluids, groundwater contamination, and chemical releases into the air. As we often show on this site, numerous studies have documented adverse health effects in people who live or use water wells near fracking operations.
In 2011 the BOGC put rules in place regarding chemical disclosure. These rules have two major shortcomings:
1. They allow oil and gas operators to withhold the identities of specific chemicals they use for fracking from the Board and the public until after fracking occurs.
2. Even after fracking occurs, operators may continue to withhold the identity of any fracking chemical information they claim is a trade secret. They can do this, according to the rules, without providing any evidence demonstrating that withheld chemical information actually qualifies as a trade secret under state law and with no oversight by the BOGC.
To read more about the lawsuit, click the link. Continue reading
The Stillwater County Commissioners have issued an update on the Stillwater River Road rockslide. Standing rock from the slide has closed the road to through traffic from Absarokee to Nye since June 3, 2015.
click to enlarge
click to enlarge
According to the update, Stillwater County has awarded a contract to HI TECH Rockfall Construction, a general contractor specializing in rockfall mitigation and slope stabilization systems located in Forest Grove, Oregon.
For details on the work, click the link. Continue reading
Senator Jon Tester has launched a portal on his web site to gather opinions from Montanans about President-elect Trump’s appointees.
It is important for you to speak up. Tester will be a minority voice in the Senate, and he needs to understand how Montanans feel about the need to block appointees who represent the interests of Big Oil, who deny climate change, and who seek alliances with our enemies.
Since we focus on energy and climate change on this site, these are the appointees we are most concerned about (with link to Tester portal). Continue reading
President Elect Trump has selected Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a close ally of the fossil fuel industry who has been a leader of efforts to block President Obama’s climate change rules.
Pruitt has put himself at the forefront of an alliance among state attorneys general, including Montana’s Tim Fox, who are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which are in turn contributing large amounts of money for their political campaigns.
Don’t believe it when Trump tells reporters he has an “open mind” about climate change. Actions speak louder than words.
To find out more about Pruitt’s intentions, click the link. Continue reading