In order to protect our land, water and our communities, it’s time to modernize bonding levels for oil and gas drilling. Federal bonding rules have not been updated in over sixty years. When the opportunity arose to meet with Washington, D.C. decision-makers about this issue, Northern Plains member Edward Barta stepped up to speak for the concerns of Montanans.
An educator, photographer and longtime Northern Plains member, Edward grew up fishing the Mussellshell River with his grandfather. Today he worries future generations may not have the same opportunities to enjoy a clean and healthful environment. “Climate change is roaring down the valley and spreading its vicious tentacles over the plains. We must act now,” says Edward.
Edward recently returned from Capitol Hill, where he spoke with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Tracy Stone-Manning, staffers from the US House & Senate National Resources Committees, and Senator Daines’ office. Edward told officials about the problem of pollution from thousands of idle and orphaned oil and gas wells across Montana and the nation. Edward and our allies asked that federal oil and gas well bonding levels be modernized and reformed to ensure that adequate financing is in place to properly plug and reclaim oil and gas wells once drilling is complete. This is important to ensure the health, safety, and livelihoods of those living and working near oil and gas development.
The leakage of methane from orphaned and abandoned wells causes groundwater contamination and air pollution, which risks the health of our communities and lowers property values.
The Washington DC meetings were followed up with a formal petition submitted to the Department of the Interior and the BLM urging prompt action to finally ensure oil and gas corporations pay fair bonding amounts for federal leasing and development.
Northern Plains members will continue to work on oil and gas bonding reform at the state level as well. Keep an eye out for ways you can get involved to ensure Montana communities are safe, healthy, and thriving!