- 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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Category Archives: Fracking Information
Warning: This article is based on peer-reviewed scientific research. Science deniers may want to read elsewhere.
A new study by US scientists shows that as many of 16% of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill liquids every year. According to the study, there were at least 6,648 liquid releases from these wells over a ten-year period from 2005-14 in just four states — North Dakota, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Mexico.
Around 50% of spills were related to the storage and movement of fluids via pipelines. According to Dr. Patterson, “The causes are quite varied. Equipment failure was the greatest factor, the loading and unloading of trucks with material had a lot more human error than other places.”
Over half of spills in North Dakota occurred at wells that had recorded a previous incident.
In a fragile ecosystem highly dependent on concentrated sources of water like the Beartooth Front, this data is highly alarming. It argues for local regulation that protects water, air, and soil required for agriculture and ranching. Continue reading
A bill currently being considered in the Montana State Senate significantly reduces landowner rights in protecting property from damage from oil drilling on or near occupied buildings. SB93, currently before the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, would reduce notification requirements approved last year by the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC). Those regulations require oil and gas operators to notify owners of “occupied structures” within a quarter mile of a well before drilling.
The BOGC rule, passed last December, was the result of a 20-month process involving Montana environmental groups, with input from the Montana Petroleum Association. The process grew out of the Legislature’s rejection in the 2015 session of SB177, which would have established a 1000 foot minimum buffer zone, or setback, between wellheads and a home, water well, or surface water. The bill did not make it out of committee.
Following the failure of the bill, Northern Plains Resource Council and others petitioned the BOGC to establish minimum setbacks to protect landowners. After 20 months of hearings, testimony by landowners, and committee meetings, the BOGC passed its new rule last December. The rule requires notification in advance of drilling to any landowner within a quarter mile of a wellhead.
To find out what you can do to keep this bill from passing, follow the link. Continue reading
“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
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
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
A shocking story out of Oklahoma tells of the death of oil executive Aubrey McClendon, who was killed in a violent car crash yesterday, just one day after he was indicted in federal court for violations of anti-trust laws.
While no cause of death has been declared, it appears McClendon drove his SUV at a high rate of speed directly into a wall. According to police, “There was plenty of opportunity for him to correct and get back on the roadway, and that didn’t occur.” McClendon was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
McClendon is a legendary figure in the fracking boom over the last decade, and we’ve written about him several times on this site. He made billions in fracking at the expense of property owners, pushing to drill every possible well with little regard for environmental impact.
The point is to caution landowners that McClendon’s death is an object lesson in how oil companies care about profits, not the rights of landowners. If you want to protect your rights, it is critical to set the terms upon which drilling occurs on your property. Mechanisms exist in the law to do that, but you have to be vigilant and act together as community to make it happen.
Landowners in Carbon and Stillwater counties along the Beartooth Front are currently engaged in battles to do this. The fight is long, but the goal — long-term preservation of a way of life — is worth the effort.
To read more, click the link. Continue reading
The Montana Farmers Union (MFU) has released a whitepaper addressing issues related to the use of fracking in oil and gas operations in Montana. Entitled “Fracking in Montana: Asking Questions, Finding Answers,” the paper outlines concerns of farmers, ranchers and landowners regarding fracking operations on or near their property. The paper also covers a variety of environmental issues, including water and air quality impacts.
Co-author Hertha Lund presented an early draft of the paper in Absarokee last May at an event sponsored by local organizations.
To find out more and download a copy of the whitepaper, click the link.
From time to time we check in on the state of the oil industry to determine whether we are approaching a time when it might become profitable to drill along the Beartooth Front. We’re far from it. As of the close of business on Monday, the price of oil touched a seven-year low as active rig counts dropped to their lowest levels since 2010, and gas prices in the area stayed at low levels.
This means that nobody is going to be drilling along the Beartooth Front very soon. And we should all be aware that when the oil companies come knocking with promises of economic growth and plenty of jobs, that promise is only as good as an oil market that we have no control of.
What we can control are the terms under which oil and gas operators do business when the market changes. Continue reading
Oil and gas companies continuously try new legislative, judicial and business tactics to keep landowners from interfering with their business. When those strategies are successful in one state, they are exported to other states.
So it is of particular interest that in Pennsylvania, a corporate landowner and twelve individual landowners who have leased their shale gas drilling rights to an oil and gas operator have filed suit against environmental organizations that oppose the drilling.
Attorneys for the environmental groups have argued that the suit is a “SLAPP suit” — a strategic lawsuit against public participation — targeting individuals and groups for participating in public debate on government policies and the legal appeals of those policies.
29 states have laws against SLAPP suits. Montana is not one of them. Don’t be surprised if suits like this happen here. Continue reading