Letter: Oil, gas board should take a stand – Billings Gazette, Dec. 16, 2016

The Board of Oil and Gas Conservation is the regulatory body that issues permits to drill oil and gas wells in Montana. Their job is to ensure that companies play by the rules when they drill in our state, and “prevent oil and gas operations from harming nearby land or underground resources” (from the BOGC website). This is critical, since many of the companies that come before them are based out-of-state. You want to drill for Montana’s resources? You treat Montana’s land, water and people right. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way.

Right now, the board is considering a “drilling notification” rule that would simply give landowners notice if a permit to drill an oil or gas well was submitted within a quarter-mile of their home. Landowners from all over the state have been supporting this rule for over two years. Who could take issue with a rule that merely provides information? Transparency is a pillar of American democracy — and right now, things aren’t looking too democratic.

So here’s my call to the Board of Oil and Gas — stand up for Montana. Listen to the landowners and protect our right to know what’s happening in our own backyards.

Edward Barta

Editor’s note: The Montana Board of Oil and Gas approved the notification rule on Wednesday.