Frack Fighters

By Larry Winslow

A large, vocal crowd from Carbon County

showed up outside the courthouse

downtown Billings, on Wednesday, Dec. 11,

to protest fracking in the Beartooths.

On Wednesday, Dec. 11, members of the Carbon County Resource Council (CCRC) along with many Carbon County residents braved the cold to participate in a rally at the courthouse in Billings against fracking in the Beartooths. Afterwards, they headed to Energy Corporation of America’s (ECA) new office in Billings to deliver a petition against fracking along the Beartooth Front. They had gathered a record 4,500 signatures against it. “I am humbled by the response,” said CCRC Chair Deborah Muth. The petition was a grassroots effort by locals signed by residents, by tourists, by Billings locals who love coming to Red Lodge and by people from around the county. Many were hikers, skiers, sightseers and multi-generation farmers and ranchers who did not want the changes proposed. A hearing scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 12, with the Board of Oil and Gas Council on ECA’s permit application for drilling in the Belfry area has been canceled due to a technical requirement. Muth said, “Now, I've also been told that ECA can wave this technical requirement but refused to do so, and that is why the BOGC has canceled this hearing Thursday, Dec. 12. So we're calling upon ECA to wave this requirement to allow the public comment to go forward.” A recent CCN poll showed 85 percent of the population were against fracking. Muth expressed concern that no before and after drilling tests of local water are required, nor is there any right on the part of a landowner to be notified of a spill by state laws and regs. Even if a state agency must respond, said a Montana Department of Environmental Protection agency official, there is no duty to tell the landowner who may or may not be in view of the spill.