Category Archives: Politics and History

Action Alert: Prevent the Montana Senate from taking landowner rights

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

Posted in Fracking Information, Politics and History | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

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

Posted in Climate change, Politics and History | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Montana Petroleum Association names former senator Alan Olson as executive director

In a move that exemplifies how cozy the oil and gas industry is with the state legislature, the Montana Petroleum Association (MPA) has named Alan Olson, a Havre native, to replace Dave Galt as its executive director.

Olson served two terms as a state senator and four terms as a representative. Most recently, he was chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

Olson’s appointment is a classic example of “revolving door” politics, in which industry hires people out of government to gain personal access to government officials; seek favorable legislation, regulation and government contracts; as well as get inside information on what is going on in government.

Local citizens take note. Protections will come from local zoning, not from the cozy relationship between the MPA and the legislature. Continue reading

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

Shell folds in Arctic as Obama wins a big bet

Royal Dutch Shell announced Monday that it has abandoned its Arctic search for oil after failing to find enough crude to justify the cost of continued investment. Shell has spent about $7 billion on exploration in the waters off Alaska so far and said it could book losses of up to $4.1 billion for pulling out of the Chukchi Sea for the “foreseeable future”.

As we recently described at Preserve the Beartooth Front, Arctic drilling has been a bone of contention between environmentalists concerned about the substantial risks of drilling, and pro-drilling forces who argue that, because the Arctic Ocean contains 20% of the world’s undiscovered oil, Arctic reserves could replenish a diminishing supply from the Bakken and other US shale fields.

In August the US Department of the Interior issued a permit to Shell to drill an exploratory well into oil-bearing zones in the Arctic Ocean, contingent on the company meeting strict environmental standards.

You have to score this one as a major victory for Obama, who likely anticipated that Shell was not going to be able to justify continued drilling activity when the permits were granted. He took considerable criticism from environmental groups like Greenpeace, who charged, “We think it’s deeply hypocritical for a president who’s done so much for the climate, to see him do something that could undo that is a real tragedy.”

The President plays the long game, and he picks his battles carefully. He chose not to fight this one, but the ultimate outcome should satisfy his environmental critics without angering the oil and gas industry. Continue reading

Posted in Politics and History, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Beware: The oil and gas industry has a national game plan to limit local regulation of drilling

Oklahoma has a problem with man-made earthquakes caused by injection wells associated with fracking. You’ve read it on this site many times, most recently on Monday of this week, and Oklahoma’s elected leaders have publicly admitted this is true. So … Continue reading

Posted in Politics and History, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Visualizing energy use and its impacts

Sometimes the best way to understand the world is through visualization of images. There’s a wonderful web site called Our World in Data, developed by a researcher at Oxford University named Max Roser. The site covers a wide range of … Continue reading

Posted in Politics and History | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Out of the mouths of babes: a Bozeman six-year-old looks at climate change (with video)

Bozeman’s six-year-old Noah Gue  is the youngest of 15 winners of this year’s White House Junior Film Festival. “Noah’s Project,” his three minute video on climate change, earned him a meeting with President Obama, who singled him out as “the … Continue reading

Posted in Politics and History | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Guest editorial: Senate Bill 374 ensures oil companies pay their fair share

The following editorial appeared in Butte’s Montana Standard on March 11. SB374 will be debated before the Senate Taxation Committee on Wednesday, March 18. If you support this bill, follow directions for contacting your representatives at the end of this … Continue reading

Posted in Fracking informaation, Politics and History | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment