Carbon County landowners request zoning for protections from oil and gas development – Aug. 15, 2014

August 15, 2014

Categories: Agriculture, Beartooth Front Defense Fund, Clean Water, Landowner Rights, Oil and gas

By Northern Plains Resource Council

On Monday, August 18, members of Carbon County Resource Council and landowners in the Belfry area will present a petition to the Carbon County Commissioners to request the creation of a “Silvertip Zone,” a 3,000-acre strip north of Belfry roughly following the Clarks Fork of Yellowstone. The Silvertip Zone seeks to “maintain the quality of life, to protect surface and groundwater and soil, to require that any natural resource activity be done in a responsible way, and to protect and improve the public infrastructure and public services.”

“We have been working within the laws and finding ways to protect landowners, their water, soil, and livelihoods in the face of oil and gas development,” said Deb Muth, Chair of Carbon County Resource Council. “Oil and gas is already exempt from so many basic protections, there is a lot of room for improvement to make sure our agricultural economy is not compromised. We just want it to be fair.”

Carbon County Resource Council members alongside landowners in the proposed Silvertip Zone have already been to the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation to request simple protections on an oil well that was drilled this spring. They requested baseline water testing, no open reserve pits to store the chemicals, and proof of sufficient water for fracking, among others. None were granted.

Bonnie Martinell, an organic farmer near the drilled well will be presenting the petition to the Commissioners.

“This is our opportunity to see who the Commissioners are working for.” Martinell said. “Are they here for the citizens of Carbon County, or are they here for the oil and gas companies?”

The Commissioners’ meeting begins at 8 Monday morning; Martinell is scheduled to speak at 10:30 a.m.

“We hope we can work together and get this done,” said Martinell. “We shouldn’t have to be worrying about losing our water and soil in an ag state and an ag county, but we’ve learned from accidents all over the country. It’s time we do something here.”

Carbon County Resource Council is an affiliate of Northern Plains Resource Council, a conservation and family agriculture group that organizes citizens to protect Montana’s water quality, family farms and ranches, and unique quality of life.

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