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4,500 Montanans Say “No” to Beartooth Fracking

PHOTO: 4,500 Montanans have signed a petition objecting to plans for fracking on the Beartooth Front. Photo credit: USGS
PHOTO: 4,500 Montanans have signed a petition objecting to plans for fracking on the Beartooth Front. Photo credit: USGS
December 11, 2013

BILLINGS, Mont. - More than 4,500 Montanans are riled up over plans for fracking in the Beartooth Mountains and Bighorn Basin. They've signed a petition to the Energy Corporation of America, asking the company to pull its proposals for development.

Deb Muth, who chairs the Carbon County Resource Council, wrote the petition and will speak at a rally today. She didn't have any problems getting people to sign the petition, she said, because of awareness of how the Bakken development has led to problems with crime, water quality, road damage and overcrowded schools.

"It's not a pretty sight," she said. "We just can't even imagine that somebody would come in and say they'd like to do that."

A wide variety of people, from business owners to ranchers, signed the petition because of concerns about how it would affect communities and livelihoods, Muth said. The Stillwater Protective Association and Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council are joining the rally.

A public hearing on the development scheduled Thursday before the Montana Board of Oil and Gas has been canceled because of a technicality. Muth said ECA could ask for the hearing anyway.

"ECA has said in the media before that they will be transparent in their dealings," she said, "but by refusing to allow public comment, it doesn't sound like they're being very transparent."

ECA has promoted the project as a job-creator and a domestic source of oil and gas.

The rally is to begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Yellowstone County Courthouse. Petitions are to be delivered to ECA's Billings office at 1:20 p.m.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT