Press release: Board of Oil & Gas ignores landowner concerns, OKs oil well – Feb. 27, 2014

February 27, 2014

Categories: Agriculture, Landowner Rights, News, Northern Plains Resource Council, Oil and gas

‘We got to speak, but weren’t heard’

By Northern Plains Resource Council

BILLINGS, Mont. – Despite the testimony of 10 landowners and affected citizens, the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) today voted to approve a permit for the Hunt Creek deep-shale well near Belfry on the Beartooth Front.

Testimony from neighbors of the drill site testified about flash floods, dry weather patterns, sandy soil, and insufficient wastewater pit lining. The local residents know the landscape and the many omissions in the proposed permit. It was clear that nobody from the BOGC or staff had visited the well site.

After an hour of testimony, the BOGC decided the original permit was acceptable. On Administrator Tom Richmond’s recommendation, members voted 6-1 to permit the well.

“We got to speak but we weren’t heard,” said Deb Muth, Chair of Carbon County Resource Council, an affiliate of Northern Plains Resource Council. “We talked about the dangers of drilling in a flood plain, the lack of water available to drill, and the desire to have baseline water testing in place before they start. They thanked us for our comments, then ignored our many cautions as they washed their hands of this well and the residents that go with it.”

Chairwoman Linda Nelson said it is up to landowners to test their water at their own expense, even though well tests for drilling chemicals cost thousands of dollars.

Richmond said Energy Corporation of America (ECA) could follow best practices for drilling recommended by the American Petroleum Institute, however the BOGC decided not to include these as a condition nor any other conditions landowners sought for the permit. The BOGC has the power to put conditions on or even deny a well, but today, they pushed those duties onto other agencies, and said it was powerless.

“This may be just one well, but it represents so much more.” said Muth. “BOGC’s job is to prevent oil and gas operations from harming nearby land or resources, and it did not do its job today. It failed to listen, and once again stood up for industry, not the people.”

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