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: Please write by September 20 to keep BLM from selling oil leases in Stillwater County

The Bureau of Land Management is proposing three oil and gas leases in Stillwater County for sale in March, 2018. Two are in Dean (MTM 105431-HW, MTM 79010-8R) and one is on East Fiddler Creek (MTM 79010-JJ). A public comment period is now open. Please make your voice heard by sending in comments about the lease by Wednesday, September 20.

Your comment is critical. The last time a lease was considered in Dean, it wound up being deferred, partly because there were 40 letters sent to BLM opposed to drilling.

Please forward this action alert to others who you think may be willing to send comments.

Comments should be emailed to: Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , | 2 Comments

New federal report shows the extent and likely impact of climate change

A new draft report developed by scientists from thirteen federal government agencies and released this week states that the average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and substantially since 1980, and that it is “extremely likely” that nearly all of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 has been caused by human activity.

The report directly contradicts statements by the Trump Administration that the causes of global warming are uncertain, and that the impacts of climate change are impossible to predict.

According to the report, global annual temperature has increased by more than 1.6°F from 1880-2015, and average temperatures are higher than at any time in the last 1700 years. The report states that from 1951-2010 the average global mean temperature increased was 1.2°F, and the human contribution to warming during the same period was 1.1° to 1.3°F.

To read more and download a copy of the report, click the link. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

New long-term study shows 40% decline in native Wyoming deer population due to oil and gas drilling

An important new study shows that oil and gas activity can have severe negative long-term impacts on native wildlife.

The study, “Mule deer and energy development—Long-term trends of habituation and abundance,” was published last month in Global Change Biology Journal. The authors tracked 187 mule deer for 17 years from 1998-2015 in the upper Green River Basin of western Wyoming, referred to as the Pinedale Anticline. The area is a prime wintering spot for thousands of mule deer, which annually migrate 20-100 miles from summer areas in four different mountain ranges.

The study showed a decline in habitat available to the deer, a dramatic overall decline in the deer population, a corresponding decline in the harvest of deer by local hunters, and s significant reduction in the size of the remaining deer.

Communities contemplating oil and gas development need to be aware of the unintended consequences of that development, and make sure that their way of life — ecological, social, economic — is maintained for the long term. Continue reading

Posted in Fracking Information, Health information | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Money is why Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement

President Trump announced today that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement, a landmark agreement in which 195 countries, representing 95% of the world’s carbon emissions, agreed to voluntarily reduce emissions to control global warming. The US joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only three nations in the world not participating. Nice company.

There is no question why Trump took this course. It has nothing to do with science (or he wouldn’t have taken this action). It has nothing to do with an “America First” foreign policy doctrine.

It’s about money. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Public opposition is going to keep the Keystone XL Pipeline from being built any time soon

If you thought Donald Trump was going to wave a magic wand and get the Keystone XL Pipeline built, you should recognize that there is no magic and the pipeline isn’t going to be constructed any time soon.

TransCanada Corp, the principal builder of Keystone XL, is still not prepared to offer a firm timeline for the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline, its top executive said last week, even though President Trump granted the project a permit. According to TransCanada CEO Ross Girling, the pipeline sits in the company’s “long-term bucket” because of the remaining difficulty in getting it done. One of the key difficulties is the strong opposition of those concerned about the environmental impact of the pipeline.

Public opposition has kept the Keystone XL from being built so far, and it will continue to stand in the way, despite whatever the current administration in Washington wants to do. TransCanada recognizes that it will be take years to clear all the hurdles, and Trump’s order can be reversed by a subsequent US president, so the company is not willing to take unnecessary risk in committing to the pipeline. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization, Politics and History | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

New scientific study shows fracking is strongly related to infant mortality

A new scientific study published this week in the Journal of Environmental Protection shows, for the first time, a clear correlation between fracking and the death of newborn infants.

The study showed that infant deaths decreased by 2.4% across the state during the period of the fracking boom from 2007-2010. However, in the 82,558 births in the 10 most-fracked counties, there was a significant increase in mortality (238 vs. 193, a 23.3% increase). These results are statistically significant at a 95% level of confidence.

According to the authors, that means 50 babies died over three years because they happened to be born near a fracked well. Stunning.

What’s more, the greatest increases in death occurred in counties with the highest dependence on private water wells, and in the counties with the greatest number of operator violations of wastewater disposal regulations.

This is a very important study for rural Montanans in areas where fracking is likely. They depend on private wells for precious water, they live in a state that is lax in protecting landowners, and the company most likely to come in and drill is a serial polluter with a track record of violations in the very counties in Pennsylvania that were studied.

To read more, click the link. Continue reading

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

New study shows much higher number of oil well spills than previously reported

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

Posted in Fracking Information | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

What a bipartisan solution to climate change might look like

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.

Continue reading

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