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.

“Changed circumstances”: Montana Board of Oil and Gas reconsiders rulemaking on fracking chemical disclosure

Citing “changed circumstances,” the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) has decided to reconsider rulemaking on fracking chemical disclosure at its next meeting on February 1.

While the Board didn’t specify what had changed, one new circumstance is the legal action filed against the BOGC on January 17 by a coalition of Montana property owners, public health advocates, and conservation groups. The suit seeks more transparent disclosure of information to the public on chemicals used in the fracking process. Continue reading

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Montana coalition sues BOGC over fracking chemical disclosure

A coalition of Montana property owners, public health advocates, and conservation groups today filed a legal challenge to the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC), which refused last September to grant the public greater access to information about the chemicals used in fracking.

Many chemicals used in fracking are toxic or carcinogenic to humans, who may be exposed to the chemicals through surface spills of fracking fluids, groundwater contamination, and chemical releases into the air. As we often show on this site, numerous studies have documented adverse health effects in people who live or use water wells near fracking operations.

In 2011 the BOGC put rules in place regarding chemical disclosure. These rules have two major shortcomings:

1. They allow oil and gas operators to withhold the identities of specific chemicals they use for fracking from the Board and the public until after fracking occurs.

2. Even after fracking occurs, operators may continue to withhold the identity of any fracking chemical information they claim is a trade secret. They can do this, according to the rules, without providing any evidence demonstrating that withheld chemical information actually qualifies as a trade secret under state law and with no oversight by the BOGC.

To read more about the lawsuit, click the link. Continue reading

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Update on Stillwater River Road rockslide

The Stillwater County Commissioners have issued an update on the Stillwater River Road rockslide. Standing rock from the slide has closed the road to through traffic from Absarokee to Nye since June 3, 2015.

According to the update, Stillwater County has awarded a contract to HI TECH Rockfall Construction, a general contractor specializing in rockfall mitigation and slope stabilization systems located in Forest Grove, Oregon.

For details on the work, click the link. Continue reading

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Tell Senator Tester what you think about Trump’s cabinet nominees

Senator Jon Tester has launched a portal on his web site to gather opinions from Montanans about President-elect Trump’s appointees.

It is important for you to speak up. Tester will be a minority voice in the Senate, and he needs to understand how Montanans feel about the need to block appointees who represent the interests of Big Oil, who deny climate change, and who seek alliances with our enemies.

Since we focus on energy and climate change on this site, these are the appointees we are most concerned about (with link to Tester portal). Continue reading

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

Trump’s EPA pick makes his intentions on climate change clear

President Elect Trump has selected Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is a close ally of the fossil fuel industry who has been a leader of efforts to block President Obama’s climate change rules.

Pruitt has put himself at the forefront of an alliance among state attorneys general, including Montana’s Tim Fox, who are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which are in turn contributing large amounts of money for their political campaigns.

Don’t believe it when Trump tells reporters he has an “open mind” about climate change. Actions speak louder than words.

To find out more about Pruitt’s intentions, click the link. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Politics and History | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Thoughts on environmental activism in a Trump presidency

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

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Environmental implications of a Donald Trump presidency

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.

Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Community Organization, Politics and History | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

10 questions for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on energy and climate change

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

Posted in Clean energy, Climate change | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The state of Oklahoma would rather pray for oilfields than regulate them

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

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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

Posted in Climate change | Tagged , , | 1 Comment