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.

Stillwater County Beartooth Zone: The Commissioners’ position is not only illegal, it is completely undemocratic

The Stillwater County Commissioners seem dead set on fighting County taxpayers in court to protect the rights of outsiders. No county in the history of Montana has ever taken their position, it is untested in court, and it is completely undemocratic and unfair.

To see how undemocratic the Commissioners’ position is, this post looks at two actual properties in the proposed zone.

No matter how County Attorney Nancy Rohde and the Commissioners try to spin it, there is no principle of law or justice in the United States of America in which a vacation cabin on a half acre should have 33 times the voice of a 1500-acre ranch that has been owned by the same family for 108 years.

To find out how to contact the people responsible for this nonsense, read the post. Continue reading

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

Beartooth Front zone update: Stillwater Commissioners turn their backs on locals who pay their salaries; support unknown outsiders

A portion of this post will appear in the Opinion section of the Stillwater County News on Thursday, February 1.

By rejecting a petition of over 550 landowners to establish the Beartooth Front Zoning District, the Stillwater Commissioners this week, after three years of inaction, delays, and excuses, have decided to turn their backs on the people who pay their salaries to stand up for unknown outside interests.

To do this they had to make up new law that has never been used in a single one of the 111 existing citizen initiated zones that have been established in Montana over the last 65 years.

It’s hard to imagine why they would want to spend precious County resources to defend this fantasy law in court against local landowners who have spent three years coming up with a plan that has received the overwhelming support of their neighbors. But that’s what they’re going to have to do unless they come to their senses pretty quickly.

To find out more, and to learn what you can do to help, click the link. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Nebraska Public Service Commission approves Keystone XL Pipeline

In a 3-2 decision that removes the last regulatory hurdle to building the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, the Nebraska Public Service Commission approved the 36-inch crude oil conduit this morning. The section would send 830,000 barrels of oil per day from the tar sands of Alberta and connect with the existing Keystone Pipeline to send the oil to the Gulf Coast. The KXL would be built across Alberta, Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.

However, this decision doesn’t mean the KXL will be built. Much has changed in the nine years since the KXL was proposed.

Click to read more. Continue reading

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More than 200,000 gallons of oil have spilled along the Keystone Pipeline

In a statement today Transcanada, operators of the Keystone Pipeline, announced:

“Transcanada crews safely shut down its Keystone pipeline at approximately…5 a.m. MST after a drop in pressure was detected in its operating system resulting from an oil leak that is under investigation. The estimated volume of the leak is approximately 5,000 barrels. The section of pipe along a right-of-way approximately 35 miles (56 kilometres) south of the Ludden pump station in Marshall County, South Dakota.”

5,000 barrels is equivalent to 210,000 gallons.

This is the third spill on this section of the Keystone.

To read more, click the link. Continue reading

Posted in Fracking Information | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Montana Climate Assessment says dramatic changes are coming; we need to be in action

According to the Montana Climate Assessment, published last week, the impacts of climate change are already being felt in the state, and will get more significant throughout the rest of the century.

The Assessment is the work of 32 Montana scientists from the public and private sectors doing research with the Montana Institute on Ecosystems, a collaboration of the University of Montana and Montana State University. The publication is the first of a series, and focuses on the impacts of climate trends on three key sectors: water, forests, and agriculture.

This is what climate science looks like folks. It’s clear, transparent, and the work of local scientists. Read this post to understand the potentially dramatic impacts of climate trends on the state, the implications for local action along the Beartooth Front, and to download a copy of the report. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

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 , , , , | 4 Comments

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 , , , , , , , | 13 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 , | 3 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