Archive for December 3rd, 2009

by jhwygirl

I won’t belabor you all with how I feel about about exempt wells, except to say that I believe the exemption to be an affront to senior private property rights across the entire state.

How it has gone on for so long – and considering the general reaction, statewide, to just the term “zoning” – boggles my mind. It’s one example of many, though, where the accusations of being “anti-business” or “anti-industry” (as in land development or real estate) win out over the rights of the individual property rights.

The Montana Association of Realtors have spent their hundreds of thousands of dollars well in Helena and around the state – their lobbyists have been extremely well at shutting down any real legislation to address these wells and they’ve poured money into candidates that wouldn’t dream of voting to halt or reduce the exemption.

Via The Button Valley Bugle, word comes that the Clark Fork Coalition and four other senior water rights holders, all from three different watersheds, have filed a petition for a ruling declaring invalid the convoluted administrative rule which has resulted in the 200,000+ wells that were exempt from review (and 1,000’s more being drilled every year – even in closed basins!) They are also requesting that a new rule be implemented that complies with both the Montana Constitution and Montana Code regarding water rights.

The group is represented by the Western Environmental Law Center, who has its Northern Rockies Office in Helena.

Here’s a link to the petition. It nicely lays out the history, the convoluted rule which results in the well free-for-all and the obligations under the law in comparison to what is actually taking place.

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