Category Archives: Uncategorized

Gianforte plans to put industry in charge of the DEQ

According to an article in the Missoulian, gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte was in Great Falls last Thursday, where he told supporters that, as Governor, he will “focus more on customer service than enforcement, in part, by placing ‘someone from industry’ or business at the helm of state agencies such as the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).”

The issue here is an important one. The Montana Constitution guarantees each citizen the right to a “clean and healthful environment”. This is a fundamental right that has existed for over 40 years.

With regard to oil and gas issues, the DEQ stands alone as the state agency charged with protecting that right. According to the DEQ’s web site, the agency’s “ultimate goal is to protect public health and to maintain Montana’s high quality of life for current and future generations.”

Gianforte’s campaign is just getting started, and his position on the DEQ may change. But Montanans should be wary of electing a Governor who is going to undercut citizen rights. And local citizens along the Beartooth Front should increase their urgency in working with county government to create local regulations that build necessary protections at the local level. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization, Politics and History, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Steve Daines joins the carbon reduction bandwagon! Wait a minute…

No sooner did we get the exciting news from Paris about the international climate agreement than my good friend Steve Daines sent me an invitation to attend the third annual Montana Energy Conference in Billings on March 30-31. According to Senator Daines, it’s an opportunity to “continue the discussion on state and national energy opportunities and provide an all-encompassing look at Montana’s energy potential.”

I was really excited to see that our junior Senator has jumped on the bandwagon to transition Montana’s energy portfolio from fossil fuels to clean energy. This kind of leadership is exactly what’s required to help us meet the treaty’s ambitious goals for reducing carbon emissions.

I went over to the event web site, where I discovered that the conference will have a “fresh new look and perspective,” and that “energy professionals, policy and decision makers at all levels” will take “an all-encompassing look at Montana’s energy potential.”

This is exactly what we need!

If you’re a regular reader, you know there’s more to this post. Click to read what this conference is really about. Continue reading

Posted in Community Organization, Politics and History, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Delegates reach historic climate agreement in Paris

Representatives of 195 countries, representing more than 95% of global greenhouse gas emissions, today reached a landmark climate agreement that will, for the first time, commit nearly every country to lowering planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change. The goal of the agreement is to limit global temperature rise to less than 2° Celcius, along with a stretch goal of 1.5°. Continue reading

Posted in Climate change, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Silvertip landowners’ Supreme Court case receives boost from University of Montana amicus brief

Belfry landowners attempting to form the Silvertip Zone in Carbon County received a significant boost in their Montana Supreme Court case last week when the prestigious Natural Resources and Land Use Clinic at the University of Montana School of Law filed an amicus brief in the case.

The brief is worth a read. It is easily understandable for a non-attorney, and includes a thorough discussion of the history of zoning in Montana.

To read the brief, understand its importance to the case, and read other documents, click below.

Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Carbon County landowners file Supreme Court brief

The plaintiffs in the Carbon County lawsuit over citizen initiated zoning filed their brief in Montana Supreme Court last week. This is the latest step in a process that should be decided in 2016. You can read the brief by … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

New study: Women living near fracked wells have increased likelihood of high-risk pregnancies, pre-term births

A new study in Pennsylvania shows that expectant mothers who live near active natural gas wells are at an increased risk of giving birth prematurely and of having high-risk pregnancies.

This study is one of the first results of a remarkable new partnership that we told you about last November. This partnership promises to cut through the secrecy and legal protections that the oil and gas industry enjoys by employing technology, science, and the collaboration of creative scientists and citizen activists all over the world.

Brian Schwartz, lead research in the study, says, “The growth in the fracking industry has gotten way out ahead of our ability to assess what the environmental and, just as importantly, public health impacts are,…The first few studies have all shown health impacts. Policymakers need to consider findings like these in thinking about how they allow this industry to go forward.”

These findings directly relate to local regulation proposed by landowners in Stillwater and Carbon counties along the Beartooth Front. The regulations address the issues raised by the study as possible causes of adverse health outcomes. Those regulations are just common sense, and should be supported. Continue reading

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Montana temperatures have risen 2.6° over the last century

Click to see a chart from the Montana Climate Office at the University of Montana depicting the temperature rise in the state from 1895-2012. Continue reading

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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

Well blowout near Watford City; this could be your 15 acres

A North Dakota oil well owned by Exxon Mobil subsidiary XTO Energy blew out on Saturday, leaking more than 550 barrels (23,100 gallons) of crude, some of which left the wellpad and seeped into surrounding grasses. The damage occurred over 15 acres.

Oil drilling is a dirty business, and this kind of accident could happen anywhere.

Doesn’t it make sense to put appropriate regulation in place to make sure that your property is protected when the inevitable occurs? Continue reading

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