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.

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.

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The National Climate Report: Don’t be duped. Understand it yourself, and take action.

The Trump Administration released its National Climate Assessment (NCA) last Friday. This is the work product of the science agencies of our country, and reflects the best scientific thinking we have to offer on the impacts of climate change over the next several decades. Here are the findings in a nutshell:

-Climate change is real.
-Science has determined the cause of climate change. It is almost 100% due to human activity.
-We can see the impacts today. They are here, and they are accelerating.
-Over the next several decades it will cause substantial damage to the US economy, human health and the environment
-The situation is not hopeless. By acting now, and acting forcefully, we can still avoid the most serious and dangerous impacts. It’s up to us. We hold our fate in our hands.

The Administration released the report last Friday, and immediately set about trying to debunk it, using mischaracterizations and outright lies. What they did not do is directly dispute any of the scientific findings.

At this point you have a choice: sit back and let this happen, or be in action to minimize the impact.

Click to read the findings. Continue reading

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Action Alert: Please write the Stillwater County Commissioners by Thursday, November 22

This is a request for action from those of you in Stillwater County. The County is in the process of updating its growth plan, last updated in 2007. They have done a poor job of soliciting input from the public, and the current draft of the plan is inadequate in many areas.

Comments are due no later than THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 22, so please act quickly. Continue reading

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Lessons from other states: Nevada and Arizona

There are two nearly identical November 6 ballot measures in Arizona and Nevada, where voters will separately decide whether to require utilities to acquire at least half of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Both measures would raise the “Renewable Portfolio Standard” (RPS) to 50% by 2030. An RPS requires electric utilities to ensure that a specified percentage of electricity they sell comes from renewable energy, which is usually tracked through a credit system. That allows for certain types of energy, such as electricity produced through rooftop solar systems, to have a “credit multiplier” effect and count more towards meeting the required minimum production standard.

To find out more about these initiatives and to find out what Montana is doing in this regard, click the link. Continue reading

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Lessons from other states: Washington carbon fee initiative

Washington has been trying to pass a carbon tax for the last decade without success. But this year, as unhappiness with Trump’s anti-environment agenda grows, it looks like they may succeed.

Initiative 1631 is on the November ballot. It would impose a starting fee of $15 per ton on carbon emissions, starting in 2020, with 70 percent of the money raised invested in clean energy. If it passes, Washington will make history, becoming not only the first state in the union to adopt a carbon tax, but also the first government anywhere to do so by ballot referendum. Continue reading

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November ballot measures in other states

Yesterday we looked at battle between the oil and gas industry and communities in Colorado. Today we’ll look at other fracking-related ballot measures in other states. Continue reading

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Lessons from other states: Colorado

Sometimes it’s worth checking in on other Western states to see what trends may eventually bring political change to Montana. Today we’ll look at Colorado, where conflict over oil and gas development is front and center on the November ballot.

On November 6, a long-simmering conflict between the oil and gas industry and community advocates will reach a head as voters will decide on two opposing oil and gas measures, Proposition 112 and Amendment 74. Both could have major conflicting implications on future oil and gas development in the state.

To read more, click the link.

Continue reading

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Last chance for your voice to be heard on chemical disclosure; email comments due to Board of Oil and Gas today by 5pm

This is an urgent request for your personal action. The Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) is about to pass a rule on the advance disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking. This rule trades the rights of landowners for the rights of oil and gas companies. It’s a bad trade, and only your voice can make a difference at this point.

Comments are due at by email at 5pm today. Everything you need to know to comment is in this post. Please spend five minutes to make your voice heard. Continue reading

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