Letter: Rosy picture of development isn’t always true – Billings Gazette, Feb. 11, 2014

February 11, 2014

Categories: Clean Water, Landowner Rights, News, Oil and gas


On Jan. 30, I attended a meeting in Red Lodge that explained fossil fuels development in Carbon County. Although presentations were thorough, daily life with oil and gas wasn’t explained. A rosy picture  suggested development would increase economic benefits with few negative impacts.

My family and I say that’s not always the case. We’ve lived in Red Lodge and along the Beartooth Front for most of our lives. We still do — in Wyoming, 2 miles from the Montana border. We also live with oil and gas.

For 6 years hundreds of trucks moved through our rural residential community, day and night. Leaks, spills and choking dust were common. Industrial garbage and exploding equipment blew off pads. Toxic emissions shrouded our homes in chemical fogs. Noise from high pressure flares sounded like jets taking off next door, and they provide so much light, we could read the paper at midnight in our backyard.

Then on Aug. 11, 2006, a “serious” incident occurred. Windsor’s 25-3 exploratory gas well reached target depth at 8,038 feet. High-pressure gas pushed rock and drill cuttings through well casing, and chemically-laden drilling fluids and liquid hydrocarbons were pressured into the fractures and fissures that make up the complex Beartooth Front geology.

We had to leave for three days, while vaporized drilling fluids and explosive methane threatened to ignite and blow up the area. Eight years later, more than 100 monitor wells, 25 drinking water wells, six springs and points on Line Creek track contamination in our aquifers. So far, three drinking water wells are contaminated.

It only takes one incident at one well.

Deb Thomas
Clark, Wyo.


220 South 27th Street, Suite A
Billings, Montana 59101
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