Tag Archives: Earthjustice

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

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

Time for the Montana Board of Oil and Gas to act on fracking chemical disclosure

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

Posted in Fracking Information, Health impacts | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

All briefs filed in Silvertip Zone case; Montana Supreme Court ruling is next

All briefs have now been filed in the Carbon County case before the Montana Supreme Court. In the case, Belfry landowners have challenged the Carbon County Commission’s rejection of their petition for land use regulations to protect their private properties from the harmful effects of oil and gas drilling.

The Supreme Court has previously agreed to review the case. The Court will now decide whether to schedule a hearing or make a decision after reviewing the briefs.

This case is important because Montana law affords few protections to landowners against damages that can occur when oil and gas activity takes place near their homes. Citizen initiated zoning (CIZ) is one of the few opportunities Montana citizens have to establish local regulations to protect their properties. It has been used effectively in places like Bozeman and Great Falls to establish regulations to protect citizens.

Yet that process is badly flawed. The Silvertip zoning case currently before the Supreme Court exposes some of the problems with the process. Silvertip landowners worked to meet all CIZ requirements. Their petitions were accepted by the Carbon County Commissioners, who then made the decision, after multiple public hearings, that the zone was “in the public interest and convenience,” as required by law.

Subsequent events that led the Commissioners to reverse their decision exposed some significant ambiguities in the process that will affect landowners in other counties. Cases like the current one can help to make the CIZ process more clearly defined in law so that the Silvertip landowners, as well as landowners in other communities, can take advantage of CIZ provisions to protect their properties.

To read more about the case and review briefs that have been filed, click the link. Continue reading

Posted in Legal, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Belfry landowners file legal challenge to Commissioners’ rejection of Silvertip Zone

Red Lodge, MT – Today, seven landowners filed a legal challenge in state district court to the Carbon County Commission’s rejection of their petition for land use regulations to protect their private properties from the harmful effects of oil and … Continue reading

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