Letter: Killing stream rule hurt ranchers – Billings Gazette, March 14, 2017

March 14, 2017

Categories: Agriculture, Clean Water, Congress, Landowner Rights, News

As a longtime rancher north of Billings, water supply has been the 70-year struggle for my ranch. We must protect the water we have.

In the Bull Mountains I rely on a combination of wells and natural springs to water livestock. And like other nearby operations, my ranch is currently being undermined — literally — by a coal mine using long-wall machines that allow more efficient mining, but drop the land 10 feet causing surface disruptions, impairing aquifers, subsiding recharge areas and pulling surface streams underground. While Montana’s mining law requires reclamation of the area over long-wall mines, it is a slow and uncertain process.

The Stream Protection Rule marked a step in the right direction for reclaiming Montana’s water, seeking to minimize impacts and more adequately requiring companies to restore streams and other waters to the uses they were capable of supporting (like ranching) prior to mining activities. It would also have required companies to more completely test and monitor the condition of streams that their mining might impact before, during and after operations — providing more certainty for everyone involved.

Ellen Pfister


220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
(406) 248-1154