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.

Latest developments in Beartooth Front Coalition lawsuit against Stillwater County

Stillwater County’s out of state law firm wasted no time in responding to the Beartooth Front Coalition’s lawsuit against Stillwater County by filing a motion to dismiss the suit. The petitioners have responded, and the case is in motion. This post summarizes the arguments put forward in the case so far, with links to the court documents.

Click the link to find out the details. Continue reading

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Why is Stillwater County spending tens of thousands of dollars on high priced out of state lawyers?

The Stillwater County Commissioners have retained a high-priced out-of-state law firm to defend a lawsuit filed against them by Beartooth Front landowners. Over 60% of the landowners in the area have petitioned the County to set up a citizen-initiated zone to regulate oil and gas drilling, in accordance with Montana law.

Why would they hire a firm from out of state? And why would they hire a firm with rates much higher than would be charged by an expert Montana firm? It’s impossible to tell for sure. There has been no public notice of any contractual relationship with an outside firm. A look at recent Commissioner agendas and meeting minutes makes no mention of a contract.

But a look at the facts shows that the Commissioners have gone out of their way not only to deprive local landowners of their rights, but to establish a precedent that will end citizen-initiated zoning in Montana. In doing so they will pave the way for the oil and gas industry to operate without regard for local communities. This agenda dovetails perfectly with the national agenda of the oil and gas industry.

To find out more about this law firm, click the link. Continue reading

Posted in Legal | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Media Coverage of Beartooth Front Coalition efforts to preserve landowner rights

The efforts of landowners in southern Stillwater County to guarantee long-term protection of their land has generated a lot of media coverage locally and across Montana over the last several weeks. The reason is clear — the landowners’ lawsuit against the County has long-term implications not only locally, but for landowner rights across the State.

In addition to this coverage, local residents deluged the Commissioners with dozens of letters opposing their position on citizen-initiated zoning.

This post provides links to published articles and letters. Continue reading

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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

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Stillwater residents give County Commissioners an earful on proposed policy (video)

What occurred yesterday in Columbus is what happens when elected officials ignore the people who pay their salaries.

After four years of stonewalling the hundreds of landowners who petitioned to set up a citizen initiated zone along the Beartooth Front, the Commissioners held a public hearing on Tuesday on a proposed policy that would forever block any group from doing the same thing.

As you would expect, people took the opportunity to express their indignation, not only about the proposed policy, but about the pattern of excuses, inaction, and delay that had brought them to this point.

To read more and watch video of the hearing, click the link. Continue reading

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

Thanks to all who wrote: BLM will NOT sell leases on Beartooth Front next week

Good news for those of us working to maintain the balance between oil and gas development and the natural beauty and agricultural economy of the Beartooth Front.

Three leases in the Beartooth Foothills will not be put up for sale as planned next week, the BLM announced today. The parcels were scheduled to be part of an online auction on March 13.

Special thanks are due to those of you who wrote to the BLM last September to urge that these leases not be sold. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Make your voice heard TODAY. Tell the Stillwater County Commissioners how you feel about landowner rights

Please make your voice heard. The Stillwater County Commissioners will be holding a public hearing to consider their proposed policy for citizen initiated zoning. The proposed policy is not a policy at all, but a thinly-veiled attempt to keep any … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

BREAKING: Beartooth Front landowners file legal action against Stillwater Commissioners

The Beartooth Front landowners who have been working since 2014 to set up a citizen-initiated zone in southern Stillwater County have filed a legal action against the Stillwater County Commissioners and the County Clerk and Recorder.

The landowners made the decision to sue reluctantly, but felt they had no choice because the Commissioners have for years ignored the will of the overwhelming majority of landowners in the proposed zone. Over 550 of them petitioned in November, 2015 to set up a zone in accordance with Montana law.

To find out more and read the lawsuit click the link.

Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

ACTION ALERT: Please contact the Stillwater County Commissioners to stop them from taking landowner rights

Not content just to block Beartooth Front landowners from setting regulations that would protect their own properties, the Stillwater County Commissioners have devised a policy that will forever keep any local landowners from using their rights under Montana state law. The policy will be voted on after a public hearing in Columbs at 9:30am on March 6.

The Commissioners tried to sneak this policy past the public on January 24, but were stopped when local landowners forced them to follow their own policy on public notice.

This is not a policy. It is just a way to keep landowners from exercising their rights under the law.

The Commissioners have asked for public comment. This is where you come in. Please click the link and let them know how feel. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A limerick for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has a problem. Seems he has to fly first class out of security concerns because people keep coming up to him in airports and yelling obscenities at him. Out of concern for his plight, I offer a limerick of support. Continue reading

Posted in Politics and History | Tagged , | 3 Comments