- 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
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Author Archives: davidjkatz
Yesterday I looked at the potential environmental policy direction of the Trump Administration. Today I offer some additional thoughts about what this might mean for political action. Republicans own climate change Conservative Republicans now own climate change, with all its consequences. Over … Continue reading
Regardless of where you stand politically, Donald Trump’s election yesterday was an unexpected shock. There is no way to know all the environmental implications of his election, but we can expect significant deviation from the policies of the last eight years, and a return to the environmentally ruinous policies of the Bush/Cheney era.
This occurs at a time when public understanding and acceptance of the need to combat climate change is growing. We should be moving quickly to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy to reduce carbon emissions; instead it appears we will moving back to the era of “drill baby drill.”
Based on what I have heard and read, here are some of the known positions and statements of Donald Trump on the environment.
We have now been through four debates in this election cycle — three for president and one for vice president — and there has not been a single question posed to either candidate on energy and climate change.
At Preserve the Beartooth Front, we believe that this is the key issue facing the United States over the next 20-30 years. It is central not only to energy policy, but to economic development, national security, immigration, infrastructure, and much more.
It is deeply concerning that these issues have not taken center stage in the campaign. Failure to debate them publicly lessens our chances of coming to consensus about a course of action that will enable the US to become an effective leader in reducing the impacts of climate change, and to transform our economy to take advantage of the dramatic shifts in energy technology that will occur in the coming decades.
We have tracked the candidates’ positions on energy and climate change for over a year, and have many questions we would pose to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump if we had the chance. Here are ten. Continue reading
Sometimes items show up in my mailbox that I have a hard time believing. But the oil and gas industry often defie belief, and today’s item gave me pause.
Seems Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has issued an executive proclamation designating October 13 as Oilfield Prayer Day.
I sure hope the good Lord doesn’t send down one of his earthquakes this Thursday. Continue reading
As a killer hurricane descends on Florida, a reminder that it is time to act on global warming in Montana
As I write this, Hurricane Matthew is bearing down on Florida’s eastern coast. It is a killer Category 4 storm, with 140 mph winds. It has already caused extreme devastation in Haiti, leaving over 100 people dead and many more homeless. According to the National Weather Service on Thursday afternoon, “Extremely dangerous, life-threatening weather conditions are forecast in the next 24 hours. Airborne debris lofted by extreme winds will be capable of breaching structures, unprotected windows and vehicles.”
The Governor of Florida has told 1.5 million people to leave their homes, saying, “You need to leave. Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate.”
Tropical storms are the norm in Florida, but as the ocean warms, we can expect more and more devastating hurricanes like Matthew. Recent research has shown that we are experiencing more storms with higher wind speeds, and these storms will be more destructive, last longer and make landfall more frequently than in the past.
There are obviously no tropical storms in Montana, we have seen many impacts here due to global warming, and can expect more in the future.
We are all connected. It is time to act now to reduce carbon emissions. As Florida is devastated by a storm fueled by warmer oceans, we can no longer afford ourselves the luxury of complaining about “a war on coal” or allow our government agencies to permit oil and gas companies to operate with minimal regulation.
We can move quickly if we act together to move toward a carbon-free future rather than clinging to the devastating impacts of our energy past.
To read more, click the link. Continue reading
Last week the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation turned down a request from several conservation organizations and other residents to require increased disclosure of fracking chemicals.
This is typical for the BOGC. Earlier this year they declined to establish minimum setbacks of wellheads from occupied buildings, leaving Montana as one of the few oil and gas producing states with no required buffer zones.
Montana remains one of the most poorly regulated oil and gas producing states, largely because the BOGC is designed to conserve oil and gas interests, not the rights of the state’s residents. The fight to reform the BOGC is central to changing the balance of power in the fight to protect the state’s residents from unsafe drilling in this poorly regulated industry.
Today the Billings Gazette responded to the latest BOGC failure with a scathing editorial.
To read it, click the link. Continue reading
I have a number of topics percolating, but I wanted to share this video that found its way to my mailbox today. It’s an interview with John Fenton of Pavilion, Wyoming about his experiences with the oil and gas industry and how they have changed his life, first for worse and then, in a transformational sense, for the better.
We’ve written about John in the past. We’ve described his personal story and how politics has trumped science in Pavilion, and encouraged you to attend an event in Red Lodge at which he spoke.
But we can’t do justice to John’s story the way he can. The video is an eighteen minute description of the events that changed his life. I can’t recommend it enough to those who live in communities where oil and gas drilling is being considered. It is sobering and hopeful, and perhaps it will spur you to action. Continue reading
New research suggests that Pennsylvania residents with the highest exposure to active wells are nearly twice as likely to suffer from a combination of migraine headaches, chronic nasal and sinus symptoms and severe fatigue.
The research reminds us that Montana is one of the few oil and gas producing states with no mandated minimum distances, or setbacks, between wellheads and occupied buildings. The Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation recently considered the issue of setbacks, but decided to require only notification of residents when a well is about to be drilled nearby. Carbon County recently became the first county in Montana to pass a county-wide setback restriction as part of the County’s growth plan revision.
This study is part of a growing body of evidence that oil and gas drilling has substantial negative impacts on human health. Montana remains woefully behind in protecting its residents from these health effects. Continue reading
A microscopic parasite is destroying the fish population of the Yellowstone River system, causing Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) to take the extraordinary step of closing a 183-mile stretch of the Yellowstone and its tributaries to all water-based recreation (fishing, wading, floating, tubing, boating). The closure affects the river from Gardiner, at the north end of Yellowstone Park, to Laurel, and includes the Stillwater River.
Why such a huge outbreak, and why now?
There are those in Montana who will say that this is an unfortunate chance outbreak of this disease, but it isn’t. This is what climate change looks like. It means that, as the conditions that promote diseases like PKD proliferate, so will outbreaks of the disease.
For those of us concerned about the future of this region it is a reminder that we need to guard against activities that can threaten our water. This includes oil and gas drilling, but many other activities as well. As Governor Bullock says, “We must be guided by science.”
The science is clear.
Last week a coalition of environmental organizations, landowners and public health advocates petitioned the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) to provide broader public disclosure of information about the chemicals used in fracking.
The proposals are common sense reforms that would protect landowners from potential harm. As Katherine O’Brien, the Earthjustice attorney who drafted the petition on behalf of the coalition put it, “Montanans have the right to know what is being pumped into the ground around their homes, farms, and ranches.”
While the Montana press has reacted favorably to the proposed changes, the oil and gas industry opposes the changes, citing their oft-repeated and always incorrect mantra, “Fracking is safe.”
The Board of Oil and Gas needs to take this opportunity to protect Montana’s residents.
To read more, click the link. Continue reading